Essential Skills


The Library of Congress has prepared a site
just for you!

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The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

The WWII Veterans ProjectThis is a poster you would have seen in public in the US during WWII...

This is an exciting time to be a student in Essential Skills. Our project, saving the stories of WWII veterans, is more than just a class assignment. It's a way to preserve history for future generations, learn a lot about a very crucial period in world history, and talk with people that have a message everyone should hear.

An effective interview doesn't just happen. There's a bit of work involved in getting the best results. Knowing a general history of World War II is a start. Then focusing on the experiences of the individual being interviewed is critical. Once you've "done your homework" there's a set procedure the Library of Congress requests for each interview:

IMPORTANT: Begin your interview by announcing:
• The name of your veteran.
• His or her birthdate.
• War served in and branch of service.
• Highest rank achieved.
• Date and place (town and state, but not address) of recording.
• The interviewer’s name and relationship (e.g., relative, friend), if any, to the interviewee. Also, the name of anyone present assisting in the interview. • The interview is being conducted for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

NOTE: Do not ask for personal information such as home address, phone number, Social Security number, or family names. What to Ask Here are a series of suggested topics.

What follows is an outline—not a script to be followed to the letter.
Let your veteran tell the story in his or her own way.

1. A Few Biographical Details.
• Where and when veteran was born.
• Family details: parents’ occupations, number and gender of siblings.
• What veteran was doing before entering the service.
• Other family members who served in the military.

2. Early Days of Service. • How veteran entered service—draft or enlistment.
• If enlistment, why and the reason for choosing a specific branch of service.
• Departure for training camp, early days of training.
• Specialized training, if applicable.
• Adapting to military life: physical regimen, barracks, food, social life.

3. Wartime Service.
• Where veteran served.
• Details of the trip abroad, if applicable.
• Action witnessed, or duties away from the front line.
• If applicable, emotions relating to combat—witnessing casualties, destruction.
• Friendships formed and camaraderie of service.
• How veteran stayed in touch with family and friends back home; communication from home.
• Recreation or off duty pursuits.

4. War’s End, Coming Home.
• Where veteran was when war ended.
• How he or she returned home.
• Reception by family and community.
• Readjustment to civilian life.
• Contact with fellow veterans over the years; membership in veterans’ organizations.

5. Reflections.
• How wartime experiences affected veteran’s life.
• Life lessons learned from military service.

Download the Veterans Project Field Kit:



How did the Veterans History Project start?

The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. The authorizing legislation (Public Law 106-380), sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton on October 27, 2000.

Oxbridge got involved when Tony Marconi from the Palm Beach Historical Society approached the school with a great  idea...the rest is history.



General Irzyk being interviewed by Victoria.











Brigadier General Irzyk being interviewed at OA.

Do your Homework
Part of a story...
Battle of the Bulge

“The incident which became known as the “Malmedy Massacre” happened at the Baugnez crossroads in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium on 17 December 1944, the second day of fighting in the famous ‘Battle of the Bulge’, where American troops suffered 81,000 casualties, including 19,000 dead, in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

The German Army suffered 70,000 casualties with 20.000 dead in the month-long battle, which did not even stop for Christmas Day. It was during this decisive battle that a number of American soldiers were taken prisoner by Waffen-SS soldiers, who were fighting in the battle group named ‘Kampfgruppe Peiper’, which was spearheading the German Attack.”



(Another educationally significant page from Dennis Yuzenas)