Veterans give first-hand accounts of war memories

November 11, 2011 (SCHAUMBURG, Ill.)

Some local veterans spent the holiday in a little differently. Because, as time passes, memories can fade, stories from about a dozen World War II and Vietnam veterans were preserved so they would not be lost.

"It still brings tears when I think about it. The number of people that died there. It was horrible," said WWII veteran Francis Dawson.

Dawson, 88, shared his memories Friday about how he and his fellow Army soldiers liberated a Nazi concentration camp.

Down the hall, Pearl Schoenberger talked about what it was like to be a female member of the United States Air Force.

Everything from Schoenberger's being stationed in Vietnam, to the USO shows, to her daily tasks, is being documented as a part of the veterans' history project created by the National Court Reporters Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress.

"Recorders are the guardians of the record," said project coordinator David Wynne. "They take down the legal record, but this is a chance to take down the stories of the veterans."

The initiative, which began nearly 12 years ago, allows student court reporters to collect and record the first-hand stories of the men and women who have served in the military.

"This, today, talking to this man was just amazing. The things that he remembered and the things that he had been through, I couldn't imagine," said student court reporter Beverly Crosby.

But for veteran Richard Koepke, the day is about helping to teach younger generations.

"We did a job," Koepke said. "We had to do a job and that's what we were doing. But people don't seem to realize what we went through."

But hopefully that will change as time passes and memories are preserved.

These types of interviews went on in other states at other court reporting school locations.

In Schaumburg, not only were the veterans honored with an opening ceremony by a local Cub Scout troop, but the participants also received plagues acknowledging their sacrifices and their stories.

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