From the Beacon: Aging veterans honored in 4 books

2010 - the beginning of a new decade in the 21st century. What a good time to remember the men and women who have served in our armed forces or currently are serving either at home or abroad.

A primary reason, as local author and Korean War veteran Arnold Rosen reminds us, is that time is of the essence for talking with and honoring our World War II veterans. Their numbers are dwindling. The moment is now.

Andrew Carroll, director of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, reinforces what Rosen says in his introduction of "Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service," by Tom Wiener: "It is crucial that these stories and profiles are told so we never forget what they have done and the sacrifices they have made." And while most veterans are reluctant to tell their stories because they want to forget all the horrific moments, Carroll says that they must tell their stories so that "the rest of us" do not forget.

"Keeping Memories Alive: Our Aging Veterans Tell Their Story," by Arnold Rosen: This is the first of two books that Rosen wrote on the subject. He compiled 36 interviews with veterans, or their surviving spouses, all of whom have lived or currently are living in Sun City Hilton Head. Thirty-three of them served during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War. Three of the veterans were on active duty between wars.

"Before It's Too Late: Our Aging Veterans Tell Their Stories," by Arnold Rosen: This is Rosen's second book of interviews. There is more focus on World War II here. Thirty out of the 47 profiles are veterans of World War II. Not all of the profiles are those of Sun City veterans, as they were in his previous book. As the author makes very clear, any oral history done with World War II veterans needs to happen now -- we cannot wait as their numbers are rapidly becoming smaller. And they do have wonderful stories to tell. Not every aspect of war is grim. Rosen's interviewees mixed humor and love along with a healthy dose of pride, not to mention modesty.

"Voices of War: Stories of Service from the Home Front and the Front Lines," by Tom Wiener: This is the first volume in the Library of Congress Veterans of History Project. It is an oral history, organized by themes of war, and includes letters, photographs and sketches from U.S. veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars.The project's Web site is www.loc.gov/vets.

"Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service," by Tom Wiener: This is the second volume in the Library of Congress project.Like "Voices of War," it is an oral history organized by themes of war.Wiener states that for this volume he chose those accounts of war which were not necessarily the most gruesome or horrific.

These are just four titles available on the subject. Whether it is songs from the Revolutionary War, letters and diaries from the Civil War era, letters written by troops who have served in Afghanistan or what children today have to say about war, there is plenty of material available from the Beaufort County Library system and the SCLends Consortium. Please access the online SCLends Catalog for specific titles on these subjects. Even though they may not be owned by one of the Beaufort County Library branches, they still can be requested by placing a hold.