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Your Life is Your Story, Issue #045 – War Stories
September 30, 2007

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

September 30, 2007
Issue #045 – War Stories

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: War Stories
Featured Article: Veterans Stories
Resources You Can Use: Veterans History Project, MemoryPress, Memorygrabber

Opening Remarks: War Stories

The stories of our lives reveal much about how we were raised, where we grew up and the significant events that make up our experiences.

Perhaps nothing impacts a person more than being involved in a war. Whether it is combat, as support or medical personnel or as part of the population living through it all wartime experience is unlike any other.

“The War”, a new Ken Burns directed documentary about World War II currently airing on PBS Television, underscores the horror of the war experience as seen through the eyes of everyday ordinary people living in extraordinary times. The epic 14 and a half hour series is not about the history of the war or generals and their campaigns. It strives to tell the experiences of soldiers who normally might not share their experience.

War continues to happen in our world and that’s sad and tragic. But the triumph of the human spirit can rise above such horrors. If you are personally affected by war experience I offer to you kind and supportive thoughts and prayers. One day perhaps we will see no more war. Until that time we record and share the experiences of war from our Veterans and others so that we can learn from the past and perhaps change our world for the better.

Thank you for the opportunity to present another ezine issue to you. Feel free to email me with questions and comments. I welcome the feedback.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter – simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. – Tom

Featured Article: Veteran Stories

There is a time and place for everything, including the stories we tell each other. Many veterans of wars in our countries have experiences that should be preserved, but those stories are often hard to talk about. While some with military experience might regale their families over and over again with their exploits, most veterans are not like that. War is not a pleasant experience. It is not glorious, despite how Hollywood sometimes tries to convince us otherwise.

During WWII the film industry released a number of movies whose intent was to keep the flames of patriotism burning bright. But in recent years films like “Saving Private Ryan” showed the horrors of war in great realism, but also showed us the true bravery of soldiers and the trying times of combat in World War II.

Now Ken Burns’ epic “The War” is giving us insight into the wartime experiences of the Second World War. They come from citizen soldiers and their families and they are revealing how terrible that time in history was and yet what had to be done to keep the world from being dominated by evil dictators.

The need to preserve our veterans’ stories is urgent because many are aging and dying. How we go about recording these stories for posterity requires planning, self-sacrifice and sensitivity. As a personal historian I need to have a number of projects that earn income. Yet I am not alone in my desire to help those who can’t always pay for such services. Many professional writers, videographers and personal historians are giving of their time, often for much less than their normal wage, or even pro bono, to help record the stories of wartime experiences.

Often a professional can provide a service in this area that family members or friends are not well-equipped to do. This is true not only because of needed equipment and skills. Professionals are also frequently detached from the subjects of the personal histories. A war veteran may be more inclined to speak honestly and forthrightly about their experiences whereas they might be hesitant to do so with a family member. Many good soldiers are first good human beings who’ve simply experienced firsthand the horrors of war. A professional has the equipment and the skills to interview people about their experiences and they can be sensitive as well to the subject matter.

Someday we hope their will be no more war. But if we don’t learn about our past, including the difficult times, we risk repeating behavior that could be avoided. Before we can beat swords into plowshares we must first face the consequences of war and learn the way of the peaceful warrior.

You can read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resources You Can Use


The new and improved MemoryPress memorybook is professional, easy to use and affordable. Create a book online, including pictures and text, invite others to contribute, have a professional layout of your choice, and a turnkey high quality binding and printing all through one process. Find out more here.

Veteran History Project

Veterans Day is in November, but the importance of the Veterans History Project needs year-round attention. The government sanctioned project is getting a boost of publicity with the Ken Burns documentary “The War” and the related encouragement for people to preserve the stories of World War II veterans who are dying at the rate of a 1,000 a day.

This project was created by the United States Congress in 2000 with the goal of capturing the stories of veterans through narratives, correspondence and visual materials. The project relies on the voluntary efforts of people who will collect and preserve stories of wartime service. The focus is particularly on gathering the stories of veterans from World War I and II and the Korean War. It is critical to gather their stories before it is too late. You can find lots of great information about veterans, the project and how you can participate at the official website,

The MemoryGrabber

I’ve recommended the excellent MemoryGrabber e-book for years now and I personally use it when helping others develop and write their personal histories. It’s highly affordable and over-delivers in helpful tips and guidance. I’ve featured Michael Boyter’s creation and his other offerings as a former “Highlight Site” and you can find out more about this resource and others at my profile of his Family History Products website here.

Closing Information

That’s it for this month’s issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and here’s to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know you’ve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this ‘zine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, – keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

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