Hochul interviews veteran as part of history project
On Thursday at her office in Amherst, Hochul interviewed a former Army sergeant as part of the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The project, which began in 2000, is a way of recording and preserving personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may better understand the realities of war.
“We secure the stories for the veterans and let them tell their story to us,” Hochul said.
Hochul, who oversees — U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul the Armed Forces Committee, said that after seeking out a veteran to interview for the project, she was able to contact Ted Wilkinson, who served in the Army from 1969 to 1973.
Wilkinson was a member of the 20th Engineer Brigade and served in Vietnam, Cambodia and Germany. He was present at the attack on the Binh Thuy Ammunition Dump in April 1972.
Hochul said Wilkinson’s stories about serving in Vietnam at the age of 19 as well as earning various medals for his efforts were highly inspirational.
“It gave me better insight about what people do in the service,” she said. “It was an honor to be able to sit in the presence of someone who gave [so much of] his life to provide us with freedom.”
She said Wilkinson received the Good Conduct Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars with Valor, the Conspicuous Service Cross, the Vietnam Service Ribbon and the National Defense Ribbon.
Hochul said that while Wilkinson may have been honored with medals and ribbons, she also wanted to let him know how much his efforts in the Army are appreciated by Americans.
She also said that listening to him speak of his experiences led to memories of her viewing clips of war on the evening news and thinking of her uncles when she was a child.
“He answered his call of duty,” she said. “I really just wanted to let him know how much he’s owed an overdue ‘thank you.’ It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Hochul said she hopes to interview more veterans for the project. She is seeking men and women who served in any U.S. conflict.
“I want to make sure that for generations to come, they have their stories on record,” she said.
Hochul said veterans interested in being interviewed to be part of the Library of Congress’ records should contact her office, at 325 Essjay Road, Suite 405, Amherst, by calling 634-2324.
Further information is available online at www.hochul.house.gov.