DU library shares stories of veterans through oral history exhibit

Carlee Evans | Staff Photographer
Duquesne University’s Veterans Oral History Exhibit is on display in the Gumberg Library until Nov. 30, where visitors can learn about veterans’ experiences through DU alumni’s first-person accounts of their service in the military.

Liza Zulick | Staff Writer

11/15/2018

Duquesne’s Gumberg Library kicked off an early Veterans Day celebration in an attempt to share many personal stories through the Veterans’ Oral History Exhibit. The exhibit is on display until Nov. 30.

Duquesne veterans who have previously participated in the Duquesne Veterans’ Oral History Project (VOHP) volunteered to share their stories to be featured in the new exhibit. This project strives to honor Duquesne alumni who have served in the military.

The idea for this exhibit began in July 2016 by the university Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Office for Military and Veteran Students. The purpose of this project was to preserve Duquesne veterans’ stories about their military service, in addition to their memories as a DU student.

Oral historian Megan DeFries, who helped spearhead the project, emphasized that although many people may know a veteran, they may not know his or her story.

“The exhibit is one way to share the oral histories we’ve gathered, which speak to the dedication and, at times, sacrifice of those who serve our country,” DeFries said. “It can help people understand what we ask of the men and women who serve our country every day and how they often continue to serve their communities long after their military service obligation ends.”

Veterans who have participated in this program include two World War II veterans, one Korean/Cold War era veteran, four Vietnam War veterans and one Gulf War/Global War on Terror-era veteran.

“We wanted to find a unique way to share these valuable stories with the community, so we applied for and received a special projects grant from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution to create an exhibit based on the VOHP,” DeFries said. “The goal for the exhibit is to highlight the stories from the VOHP using the veterans own words, incorporating images, text and audio clips from the VOHP.”

According to Don Accamando, director of the university’s Office for Military and Veteran Students, veterans often choose not to talk about their time in the service. However, the veterans who have participated in this program go on to recount the good and bad times they remember from their days of serving our country.

“With so few people actually serving, the sacrifice tied to that service must be shared so that those not familiar with life and service in the military might understand and appreciate what was done on their behalf,” Accamando said.

An additional event was held on Wednesday, Nov. 7, where Duquesne alumni who have served our country were given the chance to share their stories face-to-face with those interested in learning during the story-gathering segment of the celebration.

“Let’s face it: Freedom isn’t free. You’ve heard that many times, I’m sure,” Accamando said. “Hearing the stories of those who did serve helps those who have not appreciate and value the sacrifice committed on their behalf. That’s why these stories are important.”

The Duquesne Veterans’ Oral History Project was funded by the sponsorship of Bethel Fife and Drum Chapter 2-106 PA and the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution.

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