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the Veterans History Project. Rahn instructed volunteers in
how to find people to interview, as well as interviewing
techniques, creating a transcript, and maintaining a paper
trail for those who want to archive interviews in public or
private collections.
More than 30 Middlesex students, faculty and staff --
including 12 veterans -- have contributed to the project by
recording video interviews at Lowell Telecommunications
Corp. Some of the volunteers conducted the interviews,
while others handled all of the technical aspects from
setting up the studio for recording, to operating the cameras.
"I think this project is enabling vets to talk about their
experiences and show that everybody does have a story and
that it is important to get it out there," said Maryanne
Mungovan, MCC director of multicultural & veterans affairs.
"Sometimes you have to convince people, who may think
they have nothing to say, to be interviewed."
MCC student Monica Edrngton, who served in the U.S.
Army from 1992 to 2001, initially did not want to be
interviewed, but eventually changed her mind and
contributed the story of her military career.
"It was meaningful to me, because my husband and kids had
an opportunity to see me in a different light, and it brought
them a lot of joy to see and hear me speak about my journey
as a U.S. Army soldier," said Edrngton. "This is something
that can never be taken away from me. Now people really
understand and appreciate my service. I have something
that's documented that I can share with my grandchildren."
Theresa Gray, also an MCC student, served at the U.S. Naval
Air Station on Whidbey Island, Wash., from 1979 to 1983.
She wanted to let people know about the military in times of
peace, as well as in times of war. "I got so much more than I
bargained for, regarding the rewards of participation in the
project by meeting other veterans from World War II up
to the present war in Afghanistan," said Gray.
More than 450 veterans attend classes at Middlesex, most
having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts,
according to Mungovan. She especially reached out to the
community to interview veterans from the Korean and
Vietnam wars.
"It allowed us to gain insight into what it is like to
experience war through many decades," said Mungovan.
"And, it gave us a broad perspective on how things have
changed. For example, I always ask the veterans how they
communicated with folks at home. It used to be primarily
through letters. Now it's Skype and phone calls, and it's
much easier for them to stay connected."
During MCC's March 2012 Spring Break, a grant from the
Middlesex Community College Foundation provided an
opportunity for 25 students and three advisors to travel to
Washington, D.C., to deliver the recordings to the director
of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. It
was a diverse group, comprised of veterans, international,
multicultural and adult students, many of whom had never
been out of Massachusetts.
After traveling overnight by bus, the group arrived in
Washington, D.C., early in the morning, and then began a
jam-packed schedule of site-seeing: visiting the Vietnam
Memorial Wall, Arlington Cemetery, other memorial sites,
and observing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier. Their two-day tour also included visiting
the Capital and the Smithsonian.
"The Washington, D.C., trip was an opportunity for
students to experience firsthand the history and culture of
our nation's capital," said Mungovan. "These educational
experiences included hands-on encounters that were
unforgettable and enriching, and enlightened the students'
perspectives of the U.S. government."
Gray was one of the students who went on the trip, and said
the most meaningful part for her was visiting the Vietnam
Memorial Wall. "My brother had a good friend who was
killed in 1969. I wanted to rub his name on a piece of paper
to give to my brother, but I couldn't reach it," she said. The
other students joined together to boost Gray up to the name
on the wall. "It just amazed me that these students, not
knowing the soldier and not knowing me very well, were so
eager to bridge any gaps in generations and come to my aid."
Mungovan said the highlight of the trip was presenting
MCC's Veterans History Project video recordings to the
Library of Congress. "It was emotional for the students
involved in the project, because they saw themselves
becoming part of history. It made them feel like they were
part of something bigger than themselves."
Amy Magin Wong
For more information about MCC's participation in the Veterans History
Project, contact Maryanne Mungovan, director of multicultural & veterans
affairs, at mungovanm or 978-656-3267.
Copies of the completed Veterans History
Project recordings will also be stored in
MCC's Veterans Resource Center for
students to view and study. This is an
ongoing project and anyone interested in
conducting an interview with a veteran is
welcome to participate.