072615 SUN vietnam vet series illustration

The Three Soldiers on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was created to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

SPECIAL TO THE T&D

A newspaper is a collection of people's stories.

When we're at our best, we tell stories that not only mean something today -- here and now -- but will mean something when the paper they're printed on is yellow and brittle.

That idea is really at the heart of a series being planned by The Times and Democrat. To make it happen, we need your help.

This marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a milestone and a reminder of the toll it took in casualties, and the price many veterans paid when they returned home.

If there's anything the previous two decades of Honor Flights and memorials taught us, it's that we cannot be complacent about history. We now lament the lost stories of those who served in Korea and World War II. We think back even a generation before that to the doughboys of World War I, many of whom had stories ready to tell, if only asked and preserved.

Hoping not to repeat the mistakes of the not-too-distant past, we want to preserve some of the veterans' stories from Vietnam. While it is safe to say that the Vietnam War was an unpopular one, we should preserve as many of the personal histories so that in the future when families and students wonder what it was like in Vietnam, they will hear the voices, see the faces and read the words.

So this is a call to action: If you know a Vietnam veteran who would be willing to share experiences or stories, or the family member of a deceased Vietnam veteran willing to tell the loved one’s story, please let us know by contacting T&D Editor Lee Harter at lharter@timesandemocrat.com or 803-533-5520. We hope to collect and interview at least 50 Vietnam veterans. But if we can get more, we'll do it.

We're calling the project "Vietnam Voices."

We hope these stories will have value in the here-and-now. But, ideally, they'll be even more valuable 10, 25 or 100 years from now when the last Vietnam veterans die and there will be no more live first-hand accounts of what it was like.

Newspapers are successful because people share their stories. “Vietnam Voices” should provide some unforgettable accounts.

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