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Stories of Service: The Holt Oral History Program 2018 Highlights

The Holt Oral History Program is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing the unique Stories of Service of the citizen soldier - not just high ranking officers or recognizable faces from history, but every man and woman who has ever volunteered, served and sacrificed for our Armed Forces or our country during a time of need. Launched, in earnest, in 2013 with the generous support of Karen Pritzker, the Seedlings Foundation, and Colette Holt, the daughter of Coleman T. Holt, the program has collected more than 280 oral histories to date by veterans of every American service branch and nearly every modern war.

In 2018, the Holt Oral History Program at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library increased its reach and impact at a quicker rate than we’ve ever seen in past years. Several advocates both locally and elsewhere in the United States came forward and offered to be liaisons in setting up interviews with WWII veterans – namely their fathers, uncles, friends or acquaintances. We recorded three interviews with D-Day participants, which include the perspectives of an infantryman, airman and a sailor. Vietnam veterans, too, are now out there, sharing their stories. This past year saw the first Oral History Week, which highlighted the importance of collecting veteran oral histories and the impact these oral histories can have on others.

Each interview provides a distinctive, highly personal take on the inner-workings of the U.S. military throughout the years. In several instances, stories that were told to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library were the first time the participants had opened up about their experiences with war, and, in at least one case, surprised family members learning of those experiences. Those experiences become available for all of our community of users to listen to and learn from, either by going to our Museum & Library’s website, or by downloading one of our Oral History podcasts.

The importance of oral histories cannot be overstated, and it is through your support that the Holt Oral History Program continues to grow, to enrich our collection, and to capture the attention of the community. With that in mind, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is excited to offer opportunities for the public to get involved, so that every veteran might have a chance to share his or her story.