John McHenry, a local attorney, and the Portsmouth Public Library have teamed up to honor and preserve the stories of local military veterans by video taping interviews with them about their military experiences as well as aspects of life before and after service.
Over 200 such interviews have been cataloged in the library archives. Many can be viewed on the library website and include stories of survivors of Pearl Harbor, D-Day and prisoner-of-war-camps. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are also represented.
“All veterans, whether their service was during conflict or peacetime, domestic or overseas, or as reservist or active duty are deserving of the esteem of all citizens,” McHenry said. “The least we can do is enshrine their memory for generations to come.”
He related instances of relatives of deceased veterans expressing their gratitude for offering the program. One such individual was a young girl who called the library to say although she had never met her grandfather, viewing the interview with him brought her to tears. McHenry conducts the interiew and Terry Stevenson does the recording.
The sessions are usually at the main library on Gaillia Street in Portsmouth, but they are willing to go to the home if the veteran is unable to travel. McHenry noted that some veterans are reluctant to open up about their experiences. He assures all those who are interviewed that atmosphere is relaxed and the veteran is never pressured to say something personally off limits.
Veterans who are interested in this program can call the Portsmouth Public Library at 740-354-5688 and ask for Terry at extension 10519. Many people in our area, he said, appear to lead ordinary lives, but at one time did extraordinary things.