Sonora veteran Frank Smart doesn´t want any war memories of his fellow military comrades to be lost.
Because of that, Smart´s Tuolumne County Veterans Video Project is an effort to capture on video the life stories and memories of local military men and women living in the Mother Lode.
“What we´re going to do is video tape the veterans telling their own stories about their life, who they area, where they went to school, who their parents are and take us through a tour of their military career,” Smart said.
The project will begin with local World War II people in all the various theaters, Smart predicts., then move through the Korean conflict, Vietnam, and on to Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Time is of the essence, Smart said. “Nationally, the World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 15,000 a week, so we got to get moving and get those done then go on to the other wars. This project is long overdue and our World War II population is shrinking fast,” Smart said.
Smart believes the project is the only one of its kind in the U.S. “None of the other veterans groups are doing anything like this, though they are all partners in this thing through the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center.”
Just gathering the local veterans and shooting short video segments of each will be a daunting task. “That is a big job. It´s huge,” Smart admitted. “There´s over 10,000 veterans in this county and probably 3,500 of them are World War II.”
Because of that, he needs help. “What we need is to get local sponsorship, preferably from the Tuolumne County Historical Society, backing from the veterans groups and support from the public at large, he said.
He´s looking for volunteer videographers, as well as donation of video cameras, lighting and editing equipment, and a DVD burner to make copies for the veterans.
Smart says the project will be on-going and long-term work. after the video is shot and edited, Smart wants to make it easy for anyone to see the videos.
“My plan, my vision of it is to then down load the video onto DVD and then set up viewing stations at various locations through the county like the Veterans Memorial Hall downtown,” Smart said. The Groveland Library and the Tuolumne City Museum are also possible player locations.
The project is in the planning stages at the present time. Smart stressed he´s not ready to to accept application for persons to be interviewed. He urged veterans to start remembering dates, times, places in preparation for being interviewed. Pearl Harbor survivors would probably be the starting point for the video interviews.
The project is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center.
People interested in helping with the project can contact Smart at the Sonora Wal-Mart, 533-2617, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.