The U.S. Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y., has established a video oral-history project that will collect the stories of soldiers of all ages and make them available online for students, historians, journalists, and the public. The project, created by the academy’s history department, already has a preview site with a video explaining its goals, but the site’s formal unveiling won’t come until sometime in 2009.
“Soldiers’ personal stories are a largely untapped mine of military insight and historical testimony,” said Todd Brewster, a former journalist who is director of the project. In addition to recording battlefield stories of soldiers — including those now deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who served in conflicts as far back as World War II — project leaders hope to interview senior policy makers, among them former secretaries of defense and state. Besides video, the project will collect audio recordings and textual materials.
The academy said the project would be “a work in perpetual progress, continuously updated as history unfolds.” The project’s first undertakings include interviews with members of the academy’s Class of 1967 who were sent to Vietnam soon after graduating. —Lawrence Biemiller