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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
With an idea, a connection and a heartfelt desire to preserve history and honor our veterans, state Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, is the driving force behind the new Missouri Veterans Video project, set to unveil this Veterans Day at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Cutting a program’s state funding and then finding alternative means to fund it is not the usual way things get done in Jefferson City.
Aware that hundreds of thousands of dollars in the state budget earmarked for veterans’ videos had to go, and knowing that the University of Missouri, just a half hour away from Jefferson City in Columbia boasts one of the nation’s finest schools of journalism, Schupp focused on finding a way for the university and veterans to work together to keep the project alive and bring it to fruition.
With the support of University of Missouri governmental relations liaison, Marty Oetting, and through the collaboration of individuals with higher education institutions, veterans organizations, the Missouri Historical Society and experts in transcription, the new Missouri Veterans History Project will be unveiled on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11.
Part of the 2010 Veterans Day Observance hosted by the University of Missouri Veterans Center, the event will feature samplings from the videos of veterans’ oral histories recorded to date.
“Cutting state dollars used to record veterans’ oral histories was fiscally responsible, and finding creative and collaborative ways to continue to record and preserve histories is socially and historically responsible,” says Schupp, who formed the Missouri Veterans History Project in May 2010 and serves as chairperson. “I saw this as an opportunity to connect veterans and students, honoring and respecting the work of each as they record and preserve veterans’ oral histories to be shared with the public for generations to come.”
Through the efforts of the committee members, participating organizations and volunteers, and in accordance with the rules of the Library of Congress, video interviews of 10 World War II veterans have already been produced.
The project’s long-term plans focus on sustainability, including adaptation for course credit in university curriculum, and broadening the program to include schools throughout the state.
While the current focus is on Missouri’s oldest veterans, the scope will expand to include all interested veterans, including those just returning from service.
“What has impressed me the most is how passionate and eager people and organizations are to get involved,” Schupp said. “While we have certainly reached out for help, the number of amazing individuals who continue to find their way to us, willing to share their vast knowledge and resources, is truly gratifying.”
The program’s kick-off event on Nov. 11 is designed to highlight the pilot program started in Columbia.
“We are asking the press to help us get the word out about the program so that we can find additional volunteers to train for filming and interviewing, as well as veterans who are ready to share their stories,” Schupp said. “We look forward to a more expansive commemoration next year since we are developing plans to roll out the program across Missouri. We expect Veterans Day 2011 –11/11/11 — to be particularly poignant as we salute our veterans and thank the volunteers who will help create history.”
The Missouri Veterans History Project is in the process of applying for its 501(c)(3) status.
It is comprised of individuals representing the American Legion, Central Missouri Honor Flight, Columbia Veterans Administration Hospital, University of Missouri, Columbia College, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, State Historical Society, Department of Public Safety, Missouri Veterans Commission, and the Missouri House of Representatives.
The Missouri Veterans History Project reception is free and open to the public.
The event will be hosted by University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and will take place in the University’s Memorial Union at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
For more information on the Missouri Veterans History Project, please call Representative Jill Schupp’s office at 573-751-9762.