by Jill Parker Landsman
Capturing and transcribing stories from veterans not only helps to preserve their memory, but also serves to shed light on the key role these heroes played to ensure our nation’s freedom. Valuing such experiences, the National Court Reporters Foundation hosted an NCRF Library of Congress Veterans History Project oral history day during the NCRA Conference & Expo last month in Houston.
Library of Congress Veterans History Project Liaison Kerry Ward was assisted by the NCRF support team of interviewers, court reporters, and videographers for the six veteran interviews. They included: Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR; Meredith Bonn, RPR, CRR; April L. Crites, RMR, CRR; Greta Duckett, RPR, CRR; Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Andrea Kreutz, CLVS; Sandy Narup, RPR; Susan Perry Scott, RDR, CRR, CRC; Sophia Morris; and NCRA staff members Colin Brehm, Ellen Goff, and Annemarie Roketenetz. NCRF Manager Jill Parker Landsman contacted Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8790 in Houston to invite the combat heroes, which included Purple Heart recipients, to participate.
Through the stories of the brave men and women who wore our country’s uniform, the history we read about them makes their service come to life. The VFW Post 8790 members sent by Commander-In-Chief RG Ruelas faced adversity in each of their tours of duty. “We are excited to be included in the Veteran’s History Project,” said Ruelas.
“We just wanted to share our stories and experiences while serving this great country we call home and hope it reaches someone to make a difference in their lives,” said the attending Post Chief Victor Ramirez, who coordinated the veterans on site.
“Our longstanding partnership of NCRF and the Library of Congress is so valuable,” said NCRF Chair Doug Friend, FAPR, RDR, CRR (Ret.). “Not only are our record-making skills utilized to preserve memories for posterity, but the veterans are able to share their experiences with interviewers, videographers, and court reporters — our members who are changed by hearing the military lives of these servants. The lives of our members in Houston were forever changed by these stories.”
During the VHP briefing with Captain Ramirez, interviewer Meredith Bonn appropriately called a timeout mid-interview so that everyone could regain composure. Ramirez never told his own children about his near-death encounters and the loss of lives he witnessed during his Desert Storm service.
During the NCRF Angel Thank You Luncheon the following day, Bonn shared Ramirez’s closing comments with the donor audience. She told attendees that she asked him, “From your front-of-the-line experiences, do you have any messages that you want to leave for [future enlisted people]?”
Ramirez said, “Yeah. I think that we need to be kind to one another. We need to respect each other. Life is too precious, and life is too short. We’re only here for a brief period of time. Try to take care of yourself and as many people around you as you possibly can.
“I’m not a super religious person, but I do believe in God. And I believe that when your number is called, the One upstairs is not going to ask you how much money you made, how many houses you had. He’s probably going to ask: How many people did you help?
“And if you can say that you helped one person, and if everybody in the world would help one other person in their life, I think this place – this world would be a much better place,” Ramirez added.
Bonn concluded, “Those are beautiful words. I want to say thank you for your service. I just feel like that is inadequate. I am going to thank you for sharing your valuable time with us for this project. You are greatly appreciated.” Ramirez also thanked Bonn for the opportunity.
If you are a veteran who served in a U.S. conflict or peacekeeping mission and want to share your story for the NCRF Veterans History Project, please email email@example.com. The Foundation will make efforts to match you up with an NCRA volunteer who can transcribe your story. Veterans may select their own interviewers, as NCRF VHP provides questions. For VHP information, click here.