I’ve posted about subject this before, but I noticed a headline that said the last survivor of the USS Arizona passed away a couple of days ago. I’ve forgotten the rate, but just as with my father who was 91 in October, the WW II and Korea veterans are advancing in age and we are losing them. It’s not only veterans, of course, but all of that generation have seen some remarkable changes during their lives. Some have of course written their memoirs and/or been interviewed, but for many, the experiences they lived and things they saw get “pushed aside” for another time. We think there is always time to do this and the next thing we know, it’s too late. A friend of ours is involved in a project where he specifically seeks out veterans and talks to them, although not in a manner to record the stories – more as a way to interact with them.
If you have relatives and friends who fall into this category, try to make the opportunity to find out if there are old letters, scrapbooks, journals/diaries – not to intrude upon their privacy, but to know where the information is. And yes, if you can, find a way to capture the stories if it hasn’t been done already. Not every story, but enough to understand how very much our world has changed in their life span. Those who grew up in rural areas will have had far different experiences than someone in a city. While they may not have walked uphill to school both ways, there is a distinct possibility there were some one-room schoolhouses involved. If there is an attic or basement filled with “stuff”, maybe you can help with a multi-step plan to sort through and organize it. You can only do so much at a time productively, but it can be enjoyable as an “exploration”, too.