Skip to comments.Society Plans World War II Oral History Project
Posted on 11/14/2011 12:36:00 PM PST by nickcarraway
Wants To Record Veterans' Memories Before Generation Disappears
The Southington Historical Society is undertaking an oral history project to preserve the stories of local veterans of World War II before they are gone.
Society President Ken DiMauro said he estimates that 450 people from Southington fought in the war. But with people of that generation move into their 80s, he said perhaps 45 to 60 are still alive. The intent, DiMauro said, is to record interviews as many as possible.
"I saw the same thing happen with World War I veterans," DiMauro said. "We need to do an oral history, because in five years they won't be around."
Some veterans have already volunteered to tell their stories. John DeMello, a Vietnam veteran and former commander of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, said interviews should start in the next week.
"You can read about it in a book or see a movie, but nothing is the same as actually being there," DeMello said. "The stories these veterans have are just amazing and they can still recall a lot."
DiMauro said if the society can get even a dozen veterans to participate he will consider the project a success.
"We will be asking them when they joined, why, what happened to them when they came home, what their memories are, but we won't pressure them to relive bad memories," he said.
The idea for the project came from society members and people who saw the exhibit organized by the society on the Civil War. A former reporter for local newspapers, DiMauro said he had picked up veterans' stories over the years.
"I would cover Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, and these were the people I saw, and I heard their stories," DiMauro said. "Over the years I interviewed some amazing people."
He said the project is modeled on a similar one that the Plainville Historical Society has been working on for several years.
The oral history project will complement an exhibition on World War II that the society plans for next spring and summer. The society is hoping to get artifacts, photographs and other material from veterans for the show.
One item DiMauro said he hopes he can get is a copy of a pamphlet that showcased the town called "Southington: Microcosm of America." Copies of it were dropped from planes to German people toward the end of the war in an effort to win hearts and minds.
"It was part of a series that the Department of Defense did on typical American towns. They showed average people living their lives," DiMauro said. "I've seen pictures of the one on Southington but never an actual copy."
Walter Hushak, who flew a bomber in the Pacific Theater during the war and is helping the society with its oral history project, said he sees a greater interest in hearing veterans's stories. He is part of a veterans group that gives presentations to students and is active in other veterans activities.
"The message I try to bring is, 'Please know your history and know what efforts have been made to make our country what it is and that sometimes you have to protect our country and what it has," Hushak said.
Southington residents who are veterans of World War Two and are interested in participating in the society's oral history project should contact DiMauro at 860-628-6168.
Hopefully that will combat all of the revisionism that is going on that focuses more on our bombings of Hiroshima and Dresden, than on the atrocities of the Axis Powers.
Long overdue—we need an Oral History project on Korean War—that forgotten conflict.
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