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1:44 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

Patriot Day observation kicks off Veteran's History Project

PRESCOTT - On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked U.S. citizens on American soil.

One year later, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation designating Sept. 11 as Patriot Day in memory of the more than 3,000 people who died during the attacks.

Now, six years later, officials at the Adult Center of Prescott will recognize Patriot Day by kicking off its participation in the Veteran's History Project.

The Patriot Day observance begins at 12:30 p.m. with guest speakers sharing their military experiences. The Jerry Antics, Jerry Lineman, Dick McCord, Bill Reed and Fredrick Carothers, will entertain.

Adult Center members and guests may want to stick around for a free showing of "Patton" starring George C. Scott at 2 p.m.

Volunteers Mary McCord and Barb Reed organized the Patriot Day events and are gathering video accounts from veterans about their wartime experiences.

The Veteran's History Project is a program of the Library of Congress American Folklore Center. It is a nationwide initiative to record and preserve the first-hand recollections of America's wartime veterans and the civilians who served a significant role in support of the armed forces.

McCord and Reed have been interviewing veterans for about a month. The interviews take place at the Adult Center.

Director of Activities and Operations Dena Maiolo said the Adult Center is proud to partner with the Library of Congress on the Veteran's History Project.

She said partnership required an application to the Library of Congress, a commitment of 25 or more interviews annually and special community projects.

On the day the Daily Courier visited the Adult Center, McCord and Reed were recording an interview with former Prescott Mayor Bob Morgan about his experience in the U.S. Army Air Force.

Morgan's wife Betty previously told her experiences in the U.S. Marines.

Morgan, who was born and grew up in Los Angeles, Calif., enlisted in the military on Oct. 23, 1942. He was 18.

Morgan enlisted after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

He said he remembers being home alone and hearing the news on the radio about the bombing. He said he ran upstairs to tell his grandmother, but she would not believe him.

"A few months earlier, Orson Wells' 'War of the Worlds' was on the radio and she thought it was just another story," Morgan said.

Morgan's military experience started in California. Toward the end of the war, the Air Force shipped him overseas, first to France and then to Germany.

The World War II veteran said one of his most emotional memories happened soon after he arrived in Germany.

"We stopped at a feeding station, and German civilians, including children, were standing around the garbage cans waiting for scraps. They were starving," he said.

McCord asked Morgan how his war experience affected his thinking.

"I truly believe that no nation should commit its young people to war unless it is willing to commit all its resources, all its equipment and all its ordinances to that war," Morgan said. "We need to give our soldiers all the support in the world."

He said he is thankful that "America has not been involved in total war and it is not our children standing around garbage cans looking for something to eat."

McCord volunteers with the Veteran's History Project as a "way to give back to the relatives I lost in the war."

McCord and Reed have recorded between 30 and 35 wartime stories.

McCord said the Veteran's History Project wants to hear from veterans who served during any war, including WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

However, she said they are trying to "reach as many WWII vets as possible."

McCord gives each veteran a copy of his or her interview and sends a second copy to the Library of Congress.

Maiolo said each interview costs about $6. She said Wal-Mart donated the video camera; the Disabled American Veterans donated $300 to buy the discs. Target and Costco also donated to the project.

McCord, Reed and Maiolo encourage all wartime veterans to share their stories.

Maiolo said veterans can schedule an interview by calling the Adult Center at 778-3000.

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the Veteran's History Project can also call the Adult Center at 778-3000.