Project Collects Ohio WWII Era Stories

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Two state agencies are seeking World War II era stories as part of a collaboration to share the history of Ohio's veterans and those who kept the home fires burning.

The Ohio Departments of Aging and Veterans Services launched the War Era Story Project Tuesday.     
The project is a follow-up to a previous story collection about life during the Great Depression in Ohio.
John Ratliff, assistant chief for communications and government outreach for the Ohio Department of Aging, says there are lessons to be learned from these stories, but time is running out.
"We are losing our heritage.  More and more of our elders are unfortunately passing and their stories are very important to us," said Ratliff.  "We learned through our previous project lots of very valuable lessons.  We heard from several people who read those stories that it changed their lives because they did not realize the trials and tribulations and the triumphs that our elders had experienced."
The department is accepting written submissions, as well as photographs, just as they did with the Great Depression project.
This time around, Ratliff says they are also adding a new element: video.
"It can be maybe video of their grandparents telling their stories, or maybe video of themselves telling their memories of their grandparents.  They can post those to YouTube and send us the link and we'll include those in the story project," explained Ratliff.
Ratliff says the project doesn't just target the Greatest Generation, but anyone who experienced the effects of World War II. Stories submitted for the Great Depression project shared all facets of life, from cooking to trying to find work. Ratliff says more than 38,000 people have viewed the 300 Depression-era tales.
"One of the first pieces of feedback we got when we launched the original project was that it wouldn't work, that there just weren't enough of these elders left and they didn't want to tell their stories.  And that feedback was definitely wrong.  We got tons of great stories," said Ratliff. 
Anyone interested in sharing their story should submit it by July 31.  Photographs will not be returned.  Stories can be emailed to and videos can be shared on the department's Facebook page. The department will also accept written submissions via mail.
Excerpts will be posted on the Department of Aging's website in November, around Veteran's Day.