Part of the Veterans History Project, a museum in Florida interviews World War II veterans, and much of the material shows up on YouTube.
These interviews offer great resources for student projects, and are simply a grand way to capture history.
See this story about “Flying the Hump,” transporting war materiel over the Himalayas into China; it’s an interview with E. W. “Bill” Cutler, one of the fliers who survived:
This interview caught my attention for a personal reason. My uncle, Bruce Davis, died flying the route. His aircraft and remains were recovered more than 30 years later — someone stumbled on the wreckage accidentally. When an aircraft went down for any reason (usually weather), the crews passed into a limbo that comprised a special hell for their families. It was almost impossible that anyone would survive, as Cutler details. But, with no wreckage and no remains, there were always questions.
Update: Brother Dwight informed me his father-in-law served at the last base before the airplanes went over the mountains. We have more family Himalayan connections than I knew.
This interview has a mere 152 views as of this posting — pass it around, let’s bump the viewing total up, and get the story out. At YouTube, the Central Florida WWII Museum has its own channel, listing several similar interviews.
I could see each student assigned to one interview, to tell the story of the interview to the class, to research the background of the theatre of war discussed, the battle, the incident, the armaments, the nations and people involved — to make a history narrative out of the interview, in other words. What other uses do you see?
Here’s the rest of the story: The museum has not yet been built. This project, the video interviews, is a place-holder, a way to communicate while raising the money to build an edifice to honor the veterans more appropriately. It’s a virtual museum — one your students may browse from the classroom. How cool is that?