September 25, 2013
By Elizabeth Jones
A group of World War II veterans will come together Nov. 11 at the Waukegan courthouse to share their war stories so that they might live on for generations.
For the second year in a row, the Lake County's Veterans History Project is collecting the oral histories of veterans residing in the Illinois county to have them documented by court reporters, the Chicago Tribune reports. Once the stories are transcribed, they will be sent to the Library of Congress, where they will be archived. Lake County's project falls under the umbrella of the nationwide Veterans History Project, an initiative passed by Congress in 2000.
Lake County is home to nearly 40,00 veterans who have vibrant and varied tales that are now generations removed, Illinois Court Reporters Association vice president Vernita Allen-Williams told the news source.
Judge John Scully added that the veterans' stories capture both lighter experiences of long-time friendships to "bad things" like interactions with the Nazis.
Last year, the event featured 14 veterans. Allen-Williams hopes to have 20 or more veterans speak this November, the news outlet reports. While the project is not limited to World War II veterans, Allen-Williams admitted that the project's organizers are most interested in collecting those voices, due to the dwindling numbers of World War II veterans - the Department of Veteran Affairs found that more than 600 World War II veterans die each day.
One World War II veteran who shared his story with the project is Highland Park resident Fred Reuben, who told the news source that the initiative is a way to not only create a broad timeline of war events, but to also document personal tales.
"If they have the information, more people are going to remember what the veterans went through," Reuben told the news source. "It's just that individual stories are more impressive."