The Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association is teaming with Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs to preserve the stories of the states 100,000 veterans.
The Sorghum Cares Initiative is a first of its kind endeavor, sorghum producers executive director Nate Blum said. It is all part of the Veterans History Project by the Library of Congress.
“So far, volunteers have collected more than a dozen interviews,” Blum said. “Altogether, about 2,700 Nebraska veterans have been interviewed.”
The initial group of sorghum association volunteers started their interviews at the Veterans’ Affairs home in Kearney, Nebraska, in July, he said. There will be another group of volunteers at the VA in Norfolk in November.
This will be an on-going project, Blum said. He encourages volunteers to be interviewers and veterans to offer their stories.
“Every veteran’s story is important,” he said. “These are remarkable stories and they need to be shared and they need to be preserved.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a new volunteer initiative, “Sorghum Cares: Preserving Our Heritage. Building Our Future,” this summer.
“Our veterans have made great sacrifices so that we can live in a land of liberty,” he said. “This project documents their stories of sacrifice, and preserves them for future generations of Nebraskans.”
Volunteers will need to be interviewed over the phone or in person, he said. They will also need to get familiar with the type of recording materials the Library of Congress wants and the forms the library will need filled out.
“It’s a bit of a commitment,” Blum said. “The interviews also take a half-hour minimum, whether they are video, audio or written.”
The library will send volunteers and the veterans some preparation material with basic information about the type of questions that will be asked. This would include facts about units, dates and other things that may need to be verified. Volunteers are able to find veterans on their own or wait for assignments
For an idea of what the interviews entail, Blum invites people to visit the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov/vets/. Although, none of the sorghum association interviews have been posted yet.
“The interviews and documents have to be hand delivered to the Library of Congress (due to postal service scanning procedures),” Blum said. “I go to D.C. twice a year. I plan to go again in December.”
The sorghum association makes a digital copy for the veterans and their families. That way they don’t have to wait to see how things turned out and they have a personal keepsake, Blum said.
Those wishing to volunteer as an interviewer can contact Blum via email at nebraskasorghum.org. Veterans wanting to be interviewed can email or phone 402-802-1850.
Jon Burleson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.