NBC's Nightly News ran a nice feature on World War II memories recorded in a New Hampshire town tonight. Their short article explained how seniors in a local retirement home banded together to tell their war stories. These men and women had been fighter pilots, internees, newly weds and more. In recording their words, they guaranteed their stories would live on. Kudos to these men and women - and NBC - for taking the time to teach all of us about their experiences.
I wish my ancestors had done the same. Several served in the Army or Navy and one in the WACs and the Land Army. None recorded their stories. Perhaps it was too painful to do so; perhaps they deemed their experiences uninteresting. They gave me the outline of their service - one was a POW; another canned fruit - but very little else.
I'm left trying to put together the pieces after their deaths. I can get draft files for my male relatives and POW records. Each will give me statistics such as the name, rank, etc. Due to privacy regulations, I would have a hard time requesting their service records. I have pay stubs for the female ancestor, the only part of her records remaining after the 1973 fire in National Personnel Records Center. What I would love are the details: what was their service like? What were they thinking or feeling?
As genealogists, we should at least try to record our family's stories. I'm sure I won't be the last one to wish I knew more.