Wreaths Across America Launches Veterans' Oral History Project


Annually, Wreaths Across America (WAA) offers a variety of educational materials. This year is no exception.

“One of the focus areas this year,” stated Linda Smith, Location Coordinator for Martin in conjunction with Dresden and Union City, “is service projects for young people grades K-12.” With that in mind, WAA has created a special project for our youth: The Veterans' Oral History Project. “Locally, “added Sue Priest, coordinator for Sunset Cemetery in Dresden, “the three co-coordinators and TNECMT Steering Committee members want to encourage and recognize area young people who participate in this project.”

As created by WAA for this year, the Veterans' Oral History Project encourages young people to interview a veteran, service member or Gold Star Family member to learn about the sacrifices our military men and women make on behalf of our country.

For the purposes of the WAA Veterans' Oral History Project, the following definition of an oral history will be used: an oral history is an interview that records a person's recollection of experiences, thoughts, and feelings about a specific event or a period of time. These interviews can be conducted via audio or video recording (with permission) or in written word . Participants are encouraged to be creative and share any materials they feel are important to best demonstrate their interviewee’s service.

WHAT does the student need to do?

  • Interview an individual who has served in any branch of the United States Armed Forces or a Gold Star Family member. (A Gold Star Family is a family who has had a loved one die while they were serving in the military or who died as a result of their service in the military.)
  • The interview can take place anytime from March 1, 2022 until November 11, 2022, Veterans Day. “Some students may already have interviewed and written a veteran’s story,” stated Linda Lofton, coordinator for Beulah Cemetery in Union City. “If that is the case,” added Lofton, “the individual should check the Oral History project materials to see if what has already been completed meets time and the project intent.” WHERE does the interview need to take place?
  • Any place that works for the interviewer and interviewee. You can Zoom the meeting and let the interviewee know it will be recorded.

A young person who submits a completed Veterans' Oral History Project to Wreaths Across America (WAA) will receive a replica dog tag with their name and the name of their veteran. A matching dog tag will be created and placed on a balsam fir tree on the tip land in Maine where balsam is harvested to make the veterans’ wreaths that are sponsored and placed on the headstones of our nation’s heroes each December. This is part of Wreaths Across America’s Veteran Remembrance Tree Program. Annually, participants name will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to come to Maine as part of the Stem to Stone event weekend to place their veteran’s dog tag.

“For those who wish to be recognized locally, “stated Smith, “the co-coordinators, in conjunction with the TNECMT steering committee, will review the projects received.” What does this mean? Smith responded, “First, a participant must complete and submit the Oral History Project as required by the national WAA organization. Then, if the individual wishes to be considered for recognition locally, we are asking them to submit a copy, emailed or postmarked by November 11, to TNECMT@outlook.com or to American Legion Post 55 P.O. Box 655 Martin, TN 38237 ATTN: Linda Smith, WAA Veterans' Oral History Project. A completed copy of the interview release form must be included.

Members of the Steering Committee along with the three co-coordinators will review those received within the following grade level groups: K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and High School. Criteria used for selection will include:

  • Fulfills the definition of an oral history interview, as defined in the 2022 Wreaths Across America Veterans’ Oral History Project,
  • Creative and appropriately shares material which best demonstrates the veteran’s service,
  • Presentation of project- grade level appropriate,
  • Focused,
  • Grammatically correct ( based on grade level),
  • Interview release form present,
  • Received on time

All entrants will receive a certificate of appreciation. Awards for the top project in each group will be in the form of gift certificates or cash and range from $20 to $100 dependent upon the group.

All information and forms related to the Wreaths Across American Veteran’s Oral History Project may be obtained from TNECMT@outlook.com or by download from https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/teach. These materials restate the purpose for this project as well as providing hints for conducting the interview, possible questions, and the interview release form.