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November 11, 2022

On Veterans Day, Senator King Interviews Librarian of Congress on Importance of Preserving Veterans History

After interviewing Maine veterans for the Library’s Veterans History Project, King and Dr. Hayden discuss the need to collect, preserve, and share veteran stories with future generations

Watch the interview and download broadcast quality HERE 

BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, on Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a conversation with Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden on the importance of preserving veteran history. In the interview, King and Dr. Hayden discussed Senator King’s ongoing contributions to the Library’s Veterans History Project (VHP) and the urgent need to save the stories of veterans for future generations.

The conversation was recorded after King submitted nine of his Answering the Call Maine veteran interviews to the VHP. The project is an effort by the Library to collect, preserve, and distribute the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of what it means to serve our country.

“The first interview I did for our Veterans History Project in Maine was with a fellow named Carmine Pecorelli,” said Senator King. “Carmine enlisted at 17 in the Navy and World War Two. He then came back into service in the Air Force in Korea and came back into service in the Army in Vietnam. Three wars, three different services. We just lost him a few months ago – so that's a piece of history that would have been lost but is preserved because of this project.”

“That's the whole point, really – capturing those stories while you can and having them for future generations. There are so many veterans that will say, ‘well, I didn't do that much.’ Well, everyone did something,” replied Dr. Hayden. “That’s the difference with the Veterans History Project from a lot of the other histories written about wars: we tell the individual story.”

“Usually history is about generals and presidents and dictators, but the history, as seen through the eyes of the people who actually had to execute those policies, was very powerful,” added Senator King.

Continuing their conversation, Senator King explained to Dr. Hayden how lessons from his Answering the Call interviews have informed his work in Congress and inspired current legislation. King recently included a servicemember suicide report recommended to him during a veteran interview in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

“This has been a learning experience for me. I'm on the Armed Services and the Intelligence Committee, so I spend a great deal of time with the policies that our veterans, when they were in active duty, were executing,” said Senator King. “It's been very educational for me. One of the things, for example, that I've noticed is the incredible importance and value of the GI Bill. Practically everybody I interviewed said ‘I joined the military because of the GI Bill, because I couldn't pay for college and I knew this would be a way to do that.’… That sort of educated me about the importance of these programs. You know, it's one thing to be in Congress reading papers and passing papers back and forth and voting, but it’s another thing to see the actual impact in real people's lives.”

Over the last year, Senator King has interviewed Maine veterans as part of the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. The interviews and primary documents from the Veterans History Project are used by researchers, historians, students, and filmmakers across the country. You can find or watch all nine of Senator King’s interviews HERE.

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