Posted: Feb. 14, 2003
WAR II VETERANS PROJECT
They have been called the
Greatest Generation and we are losing them at a staggering pace.
About 1,500 World War II
veterans die every day in this country. And with each one that
passes goes the story of what they saw and experienced as they made
great sacrifices for their country.
According to the most recent
census data, somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000 World War II
veterans live in Delaware. We need help finding them because we
want to make sure the stories of what they did live on for future
Three days before Veterans
Day last year, I announced the start of an oral history project
intended to memorialize the accounts and experiences of World War II
veterans in Delaware. Since that announcement we have contacted
more than 400 veterans of that war. About a quarter of them have
returned a questionnaire developed for the project.
We are planning to use those
questionnaires as the basis for a videotaped oral history as told by
a handful of those veterans as well as a written document that will
include all the responses we receive.
Iím working on this
initiative in conjunction with Secretary of State Harriet Smith
Windsor and the Delaware Commission on Veterans Affairs. The first
step of the project is to contact as many World War II veterans as
we can find and have them fill out the questionnaire. The
Commission on Veterans Affairs has tapped its database and reached
out to veteranís organizations to identify additional WWII
veterans. In the coming days and weeks, we will be contacting other
community and senior organizations in an effort to find even more
We owe it to the men and
women who bravely served in so many capacities. We owe it to our
children and future generations, who will benefit greatly from
having access to the words and stories of these veterans.
Delaware played an important
role in World War II. Whether it was military personnel at New
Castle County Army Air Base, Fort DuPont or the Dover Army Air
Field, or soldiers manning the observation towers along the beaches,
or women serving as airplane spotters in communities like Arden, or
locals building ships at the Dravo yards, Delaware was active and
important to the war effort.
And we sent our best to
Europe and the Pacific to fight the enemy. We live in a different
world, a better world because of what those veterans did and it is
important for all of us to remember that.
If we donít move quickly,
though, those memories will be lost. Many of these men and women
have gone years without talking about what they saw and did. They
are simply not the kind of people who look for publicity or reward.
For some, itís painful to recall those days.
At the project announcement
last year, six veterans from Delaware joined me. Louis Spitzfaden
and Werner Schlaupitz of Dover, Stanley Slusark of Smyrna, Richard
Drummond and Vaughn Russell of Seaford and John Ross of Georgetown
spent about an hour or so with me before the formal announcement.
It was among the most intriguing and inspiring hours I have ever
spent as Lt. Governor.
All of them shared brief
snippets of their stories. A few said they had revealed things they
hadnít spoken about since the war and they found it cathartic.
I found it fascinating and
inspiring and I think my fellow Delawareans will feel the same.
That is why this project is so important.
Any World War II veterans or
others interested in this project can call my office at (302)
577-8787 or (302) 744-4333, or the Commission on Veterans Affairs
toll-free at (800) 344-9900.
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