Martinez resident Quentin Shivers never will forget Dec. 7, 1941.
The Marine private first class was on guard duty that day at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base.
And it was his 21st birthday.
You just wouldn't forget a day like that.
And we shouldn't.
A total of 2,403 Americans lost their lives and 1,143 were wounded after Japanese planes attacked the U.S. military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that day. It was an attack that changed America and changed world history after our country entered World War II.
Even if you take into account the folks who lied about their age to enlist in the military, you'd be hard-pressed to find an American World War II veteran younger than 80. The brave men and women who defended this nation during that war are living pieces of history, and each day we lose more of them.
The Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society now is in a race against time to document the stories of these fascinating veterans -- and, yes, Shivers' story definitely is one of them.
The society has launched its Veterans History Project, in which World War II veterans from the Augusta area and elsewhere are being interviewed and videotaped to capture their recollections.
More than 200 interested veterans already have been contacted to participate, and the program will be ready to roll after a Dec. 15 orientation for a group of 30 volunteers.
Fred Gehle, the project's coordinator, estimates total involvement at about 50 people -- "including students, veterans and relatives of deceased veterans who feel an obligation to interview others who are in senior status as a means of collecting the experiences of a generation that will be leaving us in the foreseeable future," he said.
Does that sound like something you want to be a part of?
The project still is looking for volunteers for the interview teams, and more veterans to be interviewed. Also being sought are sites such as schools or churches, where multiple interviews can be conducted.
Call Gehle at (706) 738-8242, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help preserve a valuable portion of our history.