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Episode 9- Veterans: Understanding Oral History Narratives

PRESS LOGO-03From the Southern Oral History Program, this is Press Record: a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it.

Episode 9: Veterans and Oral History Narratives

We’re back at Press Record! In honor of Veterans Day, we’re releasing a special edition that features oral histories with veterans.

We want to start out by acknowledging that in recent months and days the nation has been faced with an immediate challenge, perhaps like none other in recent memory, of how to speak to, and listen to each other. This challenge resonates deeply on this veteran’s day, a day that honors those who have sacrificed their lives for the country. Oral History, fundamentally, is a practice that is rooted in both talking and active listening. Here at the Southern Oral History Program, we are proud of and committed to this mission and believe that it can play a central role in moments like this.

Yet even when we are listening, sometimes those we choose to hear from are shaped by our own intellectual and political orientations. At the SOHP, most of the military veterans we have talked to have been activists in social justice movements who have very complicated feelings about their time in the military. This in no way means we do not want to hear from or showcase those who embrace or see their service differently. Our ongoing veterans oral history project, conducted by our undergraduate interns this year, we hope, will add new voices from local veterans. We believe that oral history allows space for interviewees to reflect back on their time of service and have ownership over how they frame their experience in the military.

In this episode you will hear from students and veterans navigating this process. First, you’ll hear from graduate field scholar Kimber Thomas, who discusses her role as undergraduate internship coordinator leading an oral history project on veterans. Next, you’ll hear from the interns involved and participating in this project and their experiences as first-time interviewers of local veterans. Interspersed, you will hear some clips from the interviews the undergraduate interns recently conducted. Finally, you’ll hear some clips from The Southern Oral History Program’s interview database. Their narratives range from an African American Vietnam veteran who discusses his difficulties adjusting to life at home after deployment, a North Carolina public servant reflecting on the positive character lessons he learned during his deployment, and two veterans of the Iraq war discussing their experiences with mental health and community during and after war.

Veteran Demond Mullins on a Montana Ice Climbing Trip. Image credit: Thomas Lee, Sierra Club.

Veteran Demond Mullins on a Montana Ice Climbing Trip. Image credit: Thomas Lee, Sierra Club.

Find more information on Press Record’s new Facebook page. The SOHP’s twitter page is here. Feel free to tweet your feedback or share your thoughts on oral history and Charlotte or email your comments, questions, or ideas to us at pressrecordsohp@gmail.com!

You can listen to the episode below through SoundCloud and please subscribe and rate us on iTunes here!

Find full interviews and transcripts below:

Jerond L. Belton

Demond Mullins

(Find a NPR story about Demond Mullins here)

Florentina Daisy Garnanez

Find information about the SOHP’s intership here.

Learn more about the music in the military project at the Earl Scruggs Center here.

EPISODE ARCHIVE

Episode 1: Silence Speaks Volumes

Episode 2: Back Ways

Episode 3: Feminism and Oral History

Episode 4: LGBTQ Southern Oral History and Activism

Episode 5: Pet Sounds

Episode 6: Sweet Emotion

Episode 7: Oral History for Movement Building

Episode 8: Voices From Charlotte

Episode 9: Veterans and Oral History

Episode 10: Women and Politics in the South

Episode 11: Oral History and the ERA

Episode 12: Revisiting “Back Ways”

Episode 13: New Roots/ Nuevas Raíces