'Every veteran has his or her own war'

In honor of Memorial Day next Monday, the Library of Congress has posted the digitized memories of 10 U.S. veterans on the American Folklife Center site, at www.loc.gov/vets.

Out of more than 7,000 submissions, the library chose an initial 10 personal narratives, available by streaming video in RealNetworks' G2 RealPlayer or Apple QuickTime Player, and as audio files in RealMedia and .WAV formats.

'We scanned in the manuscripts, letters and photos at the library,' spokeswoman Anneliesa Clump said. 'We have the capacity in-house.'

Executive producer Lee Woodman said the library encourages people 'to send their own memoirs and snapshots, which don't have to be professional quality. We digitize the video and audio tapes and make technical improvements if possible.'

This Friday at 6 p.m., 21 additional stories about courage, patriotism and community will go live on the site, Woodman said.

Hundreds of national and local organizations are participating in the Veterans History Project, which relies on volunteers rather than professional historians. The site provides explicit instructions online about how to contribute, plus biography and release forms, video and audio logs, photo logs and manuscript data sheets in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format.

Currently the library accepts documentary materials about veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. Civilians' recollections of those times are accepted, too.

'Every veteran has his or her own war,' said James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, in a statement about the project.

The decision to use the multimedia originals rather than transcripts goes contrary to common practice among some oral historians, who might 'dispose of or reuse audio tapes once transcripts were made,' the library noted. Its archivists, however, prefer the originals to transcripts in order to preserve tones of voice, expressions and mannerisms.

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