StoryCorps launches newest project – Military Voices Initiative

By Ben Mook

StoryCorps founder David Isay at the national launch of the project’s new initiative recording interviews with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the next year StoryCorps, the public radio group collecting and presenting life stories told between family members and friends, will undertake a new initiative to record oral histories of veterans and active-duty members of the armed forces serving in  Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Military Voices Initiative, or MVI, plans interviews of more than 2,000 people, enough to produce more than 700 stories. Funded by CPB and the Boeing Company, MVI is StoryCorps’ eighth initiative focused on a specific ethnic community or news event.  The Griot initiative, for example, collected stories of African-American family life.

Some of interviews conducted for MVI will be broadcast on NPR’s Weekend Edition while the entire collection will be housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

CPB and StoryCorps, a nonprofit founded by indie radio producer David Isay, officially launched the initiative Dec. 3 at the Library of Congress. Speakers included NPR President Gary Knell, who said recording the stories, experiences and sacrifices of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is important for the historical record, and StoryCorps is the perfect choice to carry out that work. “At the end of the day it’s about storytelling,” Knell said. “And, no one does this better than StoryCorps.”

Isay has spoken with veterans from all over the country who have served in a number of wars and conflicts, he told the crowd, and  he regularly hears stories that have not been told before. When he asks the veterans why they haven’t discussed their combat experiences, they typically reply, “No one ever asked.”

“So,” Isay said, “on this day, we begin to listen.”

StoryCorps will record the interviews at its StoryBooth facility at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan.

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