This past spring, I attended sort of a "speed dating" event with business mentors, most of whom had also served.
When I asked them if they would ever consider preserving their military stories, the answers varied widely. One veteran told me he wouldn’t want his story preserved, but he really wishes he got his grandfather to talk more about his experiences in World War II. Another told me he threw his journal in the fire halfway through his deployment. He didn’t want anyone reading about the things he saw, didn’t want to remember them and didn’t want anyone to know they existed. His journal was a way to sort through his thoughts and feelings.
During this weekend-long event, I had the opportunity to pitch my business in front of the entire group.
I did this to get the word out about my service, and stress the importance of preserving veteran stories in a paperback book to be passed down through the generations. One of the attendees came up to me afterward and couldn’t wait to get started. He is going on deployment at some point and realized his child may never know him as a person in the military. He realized all of his stories will be lost unless he did something about it.
He plans to mail or email me his stories and journal entries so that he can’t change them. Of course, he can change them when he gets back and the manuscript is ready, but he just doesn’t want to sanitize his experiences - and this is so important! I loved his idea of ‘keeping him honest’ while he is there.
Every story matters. No matter how you feel about your time in service, you story is important.
When a veteran tells stories later on in life, the stories are often sanitized or missing crucial details, especially if the person is showing signs of dementia. The stories that are documented during deployment, are typically the best recollection of facts and feelings that I can get my hands on - and it's amazing what is captured!
My goal is to get everyone I can to tell their stories while the experiences are still fresh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I forgot that part!” when a fellow military member who may have served with the storyteller corrects the information being imparted.
There are SO MANY reasons to preserve and not to preserve these memories, but for the most part, the veterans I have asked are excited to tell their stories one day. I ask, though, why not make that one day today?
If you are interested preserving your stories or would like me to speak to your group, please contact me for a quote. You have nothing to lose and your family has everything to gain – your story for generations to come.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours?