Four years of interviewing the people who lived through World War II is coming to a close for the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society.
The project launched in fall 2007 has gathered the stories of about 750 people – mostly veterans, but also a handful of civilians who remember ration cards and victory gardens. Each one is visually recorded, and copies of the DVD are given to the Library of Congress and the family of the interviewee.
The interviews were collected by about 100 volunteers in homes on both sides of the Savannah River.
Fred Gehle, one of the main coordinators of the project, said the group continues to be contacted by interested veterans, but interest has slowed to the point they’re almost ready to wrap up the project.
He is making one final pitch for people to contact him so their stories can be shared.
“We think, probably, if we get enough publicity … we can connect with a dozen or more,” Gehle said.
With World War II veterans dying at an estimated rate of 800 per day, Gehle recognizes that time is of the essence. About 100 of the 750 people interviewed locally have died since the project’s inception, Gehle said.
While the interviews are done to maintain the historical record and for posterity, it has been a special experience for the families of the veterans. Sometimes the veteran will open up and share stories never told before.
“That’s one thing that makes it worthwhile,” Gehle said.