Local veterans share their war stories for Library of Congress project

ByLaura Podesta WLS logo
Monday, August 8, 2016
Purple Heart Day
The stories of Purple Heart recipients are being collected.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a conference room at the Hilton Chicago on Sunday, the stories of some local veterans were immortalized.

On Purple Heart Day, eight veterans relived their darkest moments to fast-typing volunteers from the National Court Reporters Association.

Among them was Purple Heart recipient Jim Furlong, a Vietnam veteran and Chicago native. He said it was years before he could talk about the day he lost his leg.

"I didn't talk about it with anybody. Didn't attend any veterans meetings, any organizations. Just went about my life," Furlong said.

But now he's telling the world about those moments in January 1969 when a hand grenade exploded at his feet.

"I was conscious for quite a while. They were trying to keep me conscious so I wouldn't go into shock," Furlong said.

The effort to collect stories seeks to preserve United States war history.

"The veterans today they need to speak for those that aren't here," Furlong said.

The court reporters transcribed their words using special keyboards.

In the last decade, court reporters have typed up more than 4,000 stories.

"The Library of Congress collects oral histories of America's war veterans and we have partnered with them to transcribe those oral histories," said B.J. Shorak, deputy executive director of the National Court Reporters Foundation

In 4-6 months, the transcripts of the veterans' stories will be available to public via the Library of Congress' website.