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People want to hear what veterans have to say

Posted Friday, September 10, 2010, at 7:56 AM

We want more veterans' stories.

When the state-funded Missouri Veteran Stories program was in Slater last year to do interviews with Saline County veterans, most of the men and women who showed up to talk with the video crew were modest about their experiences.

"I don't have much to tell," they'd say, but after a few minutes chatting with the interviewer, they often relaxed a bit, and it turned out they did have much to tell.

It's common for veterans to downplay the importance of their service. People who serve most often are the most humble. But what they may not realize is how much the community values what they did for their country, whether it was engaging the enemy in battle, patching up the wounded, feeding the troops or pushing paper. It takes a lot of effort by a lot of people in a wide range of roles to run the most powerful military in the world.

Everybody who participates is important. Every story is worth telling.

And while Hollywood tends to like the inspiring battle stories -- because movie audiences demand their explosions! -- the people at home really want to know what their friends and relatives experienced while serving.

I went to a presentation at Bueker Middle School last year that featured veterans Floyd Case, Kile Guthrey and Larry Godsey. They represented experience in three different wars.

They told the assembled students some of the things they remembered about the service, then the kids asked questions. And quite often, the questions were about the mundane matters of life in the military. What did you eat? Where did you sleep? Did you have spare time and what did you do when you did? Were you scared?

That's what we want to know: Everything. Anything.

Marshall High School history teacher Paul Gieringer talks about assigning students to interview relatives who have served. He said there are always students who are amazed at what they learn about people they see all the time, people they thought they knew everything about.

This is not stuff the history books bother with, for the most part. It's not the stuff Hollywood bothers with. But these are stories we care about. This is our history.

And because the state legislature cut funding for Missouri Veteran Stories, The Marshall Democrat-News is picking up the ball and running with it.

We've created Saline County Veteran Stories.

Staff writer Pat Nolan conducted four interviews with local veterans in August. The first video will be released on Patriot Day, Saturday, Sept. 11. More will follow.

And we hope to schedule more interviews soon.

There are more stories to tell, and we hope eventually to collect them all and share them with the community.

If you are a veteran or know a veteran you think would be willing to participate in this project, stop by The Marshall Democrat-News office to pick up a nomination form or visit http://www.marshallnews.com/forms/vetera... to fill one out online.

After several veterans have stepped forward or been nominated, we'll set up interviews. The interviews vary in length but average about half an hour.

We look forward to talking to more veterans!

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God Bless you Eric--- I am very proud of you and your staff.... what a great way to honor our men and women who have served----- GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!=-- the thought of it brings tears to my eyes and I am SO excited to see them

-- Posted by workingmom on Fri, Sep 10, 2010, at 10:01 AM

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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.
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