The Department of Veterans Affairs estimated in 2018 that 318 World War II veterans die every day. As they are lost, their voices, filled with stories of service and sacrifice, disappear forever.
At Falvey Memorial Library on Nov. 12, Villanova’s Office of Veterans and Military Members and the Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement Department launched a collaboration “Lest We Forget: The Villanova Veterans History Project” that has begun to capture the unique voices and stories of veterans with connections to Villanova through digital recordings.
The recordings were engineered by Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian.
Digital Scholarship Librarian Erica Hayes overviewed the project’s interactive memorial map that honors Villanovans who have died in service to their country.
“This project has as a goal, to honor veterans, to hear their voices and to tell their stories. Whether it be through the Voices project, in an oral interview, or through the mapping project where we show more than just a name, we want to honor that sacrifice and service,” said Michael Brown, Director of Villanova’s Office of Veterans and Military Service Members and an Army Veteran. “I want you all, if you’re a veteran and have an interest, to come and tell your story as well. There’s value in that—we want to hear it. When you’re gone, which is hopefully a long time from now, maybe your grandchildren will want to hear that story too.”
More than 100 veterans, alumni, family, ROTC students, faculty, and staff attended the launch celebration, which included remembrances of two of the project’s 17 participants. They shared memories of their time in the armed services as well as their time as a student at Villanova.
Former US Navy Commander John Schofield CLAS discussed his time in Villanova’s NROTC program, where he struggled, graduating last in a class of 18, but found equal measures of support and tough love from his mentors. That pushed him to succeed then and built a foundation for success in his military service and beyond.
“The prevailing themes at Villanova and in the family of Villanovans is that you are going to make it and we love you. That speaks volumes about how special of a place this is, including for veterans,” he said. “I can’t thank you and Villanova enough for doing this.”