The people who run a program that has Illinois middle- and high-school students record oral histories of veterans are trying to throw off the label of “best kept secret.” A ceremony at the Illinois State Library Thursday afternoon celebrated the Illinois Veterans and Community Classroom Project, which includes representatives from the World War 2 Illinois Memorial Board and the Illinois Principals Association Foundation.
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The project, the videos of which are available on the Internet, has touched an estimated 5,000 students from 32 schools since it began in 2008. “As the interview progressed, he started to pour everything out,” said Bryce Carpenter, a student from O’Fallon. “At the end of our interview, Mr. Johnson told us we were the first people he had told his story to; not his family. That right there shows the power of what this project has, because (otherwise) his story may never have been heard or documented.”
Project director Vicki DeWitt said, “I’ve done a lot of things in my life; this is work worth doing.” DeWitt works for the Principals Association and says the project does not use taxpayer funds.