Author Topic: Memory Project to preserve stories of Korean War veterans  (Read 1458 times)

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Memory Project to preserve stories of Korean War veterans
« on: March 31, 2012, 10:47:59 PM »
Memory Project to preserve stories of Korean War veterans

Captain Mort Lightstone spent 6,600 hours of flight during the Korean War. He doesn’t want that to be forgotten.

“As time goes by, we lose memory of those bad times,” said the 78-year-old veteran, who joined the Canadian Airforce when he was 18. Today, he takes pride in talking to students around the country about his experience in the war, and teaching them how to “salute veterans.”

Looking back at the services he rendered in the Canadian military service for 28 years, Lightstone said it was a big sacrifice. He still remembers how terrifying it could get, knowing that they could even get killed while fighting in a foreign country.

“We knew dying was part of the game,” he said, adding it goes to show the courage and determination to defend people’s rights abroad.

Lightsone believes every Canadian should have a chance to know what veterans went through as they fought during World War II and during the Korean War. He is among those living war veterans who have joined the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Memory Project to help get their stories heard and shared by all Canadians.

The Memory Project started gathering and recording stories of the Second World War in 2009. It has so far archived firsthand accounts from more than 2,000 veterans on an extensive, interactive website.

On Tuesday, the project received a government grant of $1.2 million to expand its existing archives and include testimonies from Korean War veterans.

“Every veteran who fought this war deserves to be able to share their stories,” said James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

The Historica-Dominion Institute knows it has to act fast to preserve history. There are about 10,000 Korean War veterans still alive, as well as 143,000 veterans of the Second World War. With the new funding, the institute hopes to be able to record at least 500 testimonies of those who fought the Korean War, plus as many as they can from the WW II veterans during the next three years.

There is more pressure now more than ever.

“At least 500 veterans are dying every week in Canada,” said Jeremy Diamond, institute’s director of programs and development. “If we don’t get their stories now, we will lose them forever.”

For Lightstone the projet is also about inspiring young generations through the show-and-tell approach.

“Remembrance is more than just Nov. 11, it’s about maintaining that peace we have,” he said.

Canada sent close to 30,000 troops to the Korean War, and over 500 of them died on the battlefield in a struggle to deter communist forces that had invaded South Korea in 1950.
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