Hopefully this page is helpful if you are looking at preserving a
story or stories.  This page will show you how I've gone
about it.  I want to add the disclaimer that this is certainly not
only way to do it though.  I am constantly trying to improve
on it and always very open to other ideas and thoughts about
how to do so.  

GETTING THE WORD OUT AND FINDING VETERANS

This is an area that I have had a variety of success at and is
one area I would like to improve on.  Obviously the key here
is getting the word out about what you are doing.  By far my
biggest success in finding veterans, or better yet veterans
finding me, has been getting involved with veteran  
organizations such as the Honor Flight and meeting the
veterans firsthand.  Having newspapers write articles about
the project has also been very helpful.   The local newspapers
here have been wonderful about this.   From this base of
veterans that I interview, many then refer me to other
veterans or other veterans to me.   Other ways I have tried
with a variety of success has been contacting the local
veterans organizations such as the VFW or American Legion,
going to Veteran's Day celebrations, writing to veterans that
have been highlighted or noted as veterans in newspaper
articles and having information in my car about the project
that I leave on the windshield of cars with license plates that
signify the owner as a veteran, Purple Heart recipient, former
POW, etc.  

GETTING STARTED

Once you have started finding and talking to veterans about
the project, you are bound to find they fall across a  wide
spectrum, from those who have a story or memories they
would just soon forget about and/or not talk about (which I
respect) to those who say they did nothing or have no story
(which I don't believe!!!!!!  I believe that anyone who walked
out their door to serve their country, regardless if they
stormed a beach or spent their time in KP duty, deserves to
have their story told.).   Once I have made contact, I either
give or mail them a
letter of introduction of what the project is
about.  I also usually include a general
list of questions asked
in the interview.  I pulled and compiled these questions from
various sites such as the Library of Congress Veterans
Project.  I don't ask all of these questions, but use the list as a
general framework for the interview.  I have found that by
giving the list ahead of time, it gives the veteran an idea of
how the interview will go, allows them time to prepare their
thoughts, and generally just helps to jog their memories.  

THE INTERVIEW

Once they agree to be interviewed, we set up a time that is
mutually convenient.  The interview is usually at their home.  
There are many ways to collect the interview, with the three
most common being either in written, audio or video form.   I
choose to use the video form, as I believe the video not only
collects the story, but also gets emotions, expressions and
mannerisms of the veteran, which adds to the story.   I have
them sit where they are comfortable and set up the camera
slightly to their side.   I see the interview as a cross between a
casual conversation and a 60 Minutes type interview.  Like I
said earlier, I try to gear the interview more towards their
personal experiences and perspective.   I always tell them not
to get hung up on exact figures (ie. trying to remember if it
was the 11th or 12th of July?, when July of 43' or even the
summer of 43' will do the trick). You have to try and find a
balance where you ask questions and keep the interview on
track, but at the same time not interfere with their story or
break their train of thought.  In addition to the interview, I
also ask them to add any pictures, medals, mementos, etc.  
they would like added to the tape.  

POST INTERVIEW

After the interview, I take the tape back and load it on the
computer.  I do some very light editing, add descriptive text
and burn it on to a DVD.  I make a descriptive DVD case and
get the final product back to them.   My main objective has
been to make sure that the veterans and their families now
have their story down on permanent record.  A second object,
only with their permission, has been to donate a copy to the
local museum or library, the National WWII Museum for those
vets and the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.  I
never have, and vow never to, charge a veteran to do this.  I
suppose I should explore, as you may want to as well, such
things as applying for grants to help cover expenses.

HOW TO