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Finkenauer looks to connect veterans and students

Contributed photos — Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) speaks with veterans and wants to connect students with them so they can hear their stories.

In recognition of the Fourth of July and the sacrifices made by veterans Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa)is calling on Northeast Iowa high school students and inviting military veterans to take part in the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

The Veterans History Project is a program of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center to collect and preserve personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations can hear their stories and better understand their wartime experiences.

“Respect for our veterans and our heroes are values I grew up with,” Finkenauer said. “My grandfather served on the USS Bunker Hill in World War II, an aircraft carrier that was struck by two kamikaze planes resulting in more than 600 casualties. One of those casualties was my grandfather, Gerald Finkenauer Sr. He was lucky to survive, almost lost his leg, and carried shrapnel in it with a slight limp until he passed away five decades later.”

Finkenauer will host a video conference with interested Iowans and officials from the Veterans History Project to explain the program and how to conduct veteran interviews remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the first step toward connecting Iowa high school students with veterans to hear their stories and submit them to be archived at the Library of Congress.

“Today, his medals — including his Purple Heart — hang on the wall of my congressional office, but he died before I was old enough to really ask him about his experience and the meaning of his service,” Finkenauer said. “I heard them passed down in family stories, of course, and I read about them in letters and newspaper articles, but nothing could compare to hearing him share his sacrifice in his own voice. We must do all we can to preserve the stories of our heroes and ensure the next generation never forgets.”

Please sign up at finkenauer.house.gov/vetshistory to join this live video meeting at noon on July 17.

High school juniors and seniors are encouraged to participate, as are U.S. military veterans of armed conflicts, peacekeeping missions and military operations from 1939 to 2011.

“Our veterans have so much to tell us and teach us about their lives, their experiences and the meaning of service to our nation,” Finkenauer said. “The Veterans History Project can build one-on-one bonds between Iowa veterans and Iowa students ­– while preserving these important stories for generations to come.”

The deadline to sign up for this live informational video conference is July 10. Sign up at finkenauer.house.gov/vetshistory.

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