Vets invited to share stories of ‘sacrifice and bravery’
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org August 15, 2013 6:14PM
Lake County’s legal community will transcribe veterans’ war stories to share with the Library of Congress. | AP FILE
Court administration employee Carol Cord, who can be reached at (847) 377-3771, is the main contact for the local Veterans History Project.
Cord, the mother of two war veterans of the recent conflicts in the Middle East, will be coordinating the volunteers, the veterans and courthouse personnel.
Any veteran interested in being interviewed or anyone interested in volunteering to assist in this project should contact her by Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Those interested in reading veterans’ stories that have already been archived may acces them on the Veterans History Project Web site at www.loc.gov/vets.
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:30PM
Colleen Eitermann’s late father Duncan Finn said little about his battle experiences in World War II, and it has stuck with her.
“I always thought that I wish I knew a little more,” she said.
Eitermann, a court reporter in Lake County Circuit Court, is one of several members of the Lake County legal community volunteering to preserve local veterans’ memories and stories for posterity.
The local volunteers will work with the Library of Congress on its Veterans History Project this Veterans Day morning, Monday, Nov. 11, when war veterans are invited to come to the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan to have their oral histories recorded by court reporters.
The typed transcripts will be archived at the Library of Congress.
Lake County started participating in the program last year, and officials plan to make the local program an annual event.
“I love it. I wanted to jump right in,” said Eitermann, who was one of the first volunteers last year and looks forward to this year’s event. “It’s personal to me. My father fought in World War II and never talked much about it. The more of these stories we can get, the better it is for history.”
The project collects first-hand accounts of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the current Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
Also welcome are personal items such as photographs, diaries and letters from the veterans.
Participating volunteers include employees of the Circuit Court, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and the Lake County Bar Association, who conduct the oral interviews of the war veterans and the civilians who supported the war effort. Chief Judge Fred Foreman is seeking volunteers from each group to assist in the effort.
Foreman, an Air Force veteran whose father was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in World War II, noted that Northern Illinois is home to hundreds of thousands of war veterans and civilians who helped them, and that as time goes on, more and more war vets pass away and the details of their experiences and those of their comrades are lost.
“War veterans are often hesitant to talk about their own experiences because of a sense of humility, but they are often the last witnesses to the sacrifice and bravery of others who did not survive the war or have since passed,” he said. “The events they witnessed firsthand and their memories of their comrades in arms need to be preserved.”
Court reporter Vernita Allen-Williams, along with Eitermann, will be coordinating the court reporters’ support of this important project.
“The official court reporters covering Lake County’s second Veterans History Project event are again very excited to be a part of this effort,” Allen-Williams said.
Local judges who are veterans, including John Phillips, Michael Betar, Michael Fusz and John Scully, will be contacting veteran organizations and individual veterans in Northern Illinois to seek their help in contacting other war veterans and civilians who aided in the war efforts. They will also be recruiting Lake County lawyers, assistant state’s attorneys and assistant public defenders to interview the war veterans and civilians.
Foreman said he is looking forward to the county’s second year of participating in the program, and it’s first year of holding it on Veterans Day.
“It’s a real inspirational morning,” he said.