The experience of war has affected every generation in the 20th and 21st century. Every soldier has a story to tell, and since the year 2000 the Veteran's History Project, a new permanent department of the Library of Congress, has been carefully collecting and preserving the memories of the veterans of all wars. The collection is astonishing in its scope. In addition to more than 50,000 recorded oral histories, the VHP has amassed thousands of letters, photographs, scrapbooks, and invaluable mementos from nearly a century of warfare.In the first book to showcase the richness and depth of this collection the Library of Congress has organized the book into chapters by themes common to all war experiences: Basic Training, First Combat, Courage, Special Bonds, Fate, Fun, and Coming Home. Short introductory essays introduce each topic, then the book allows the veterans their chance to speak, deftly interweaving the letters, photographs, sketches, and pages of compelling oral history of U.S. veterans' experiences in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Brief connecting passages provide background information where necessary.Readers will discover the extraordinary memoirs of men like John Casper Wister, a so-called "ordinary soldier" who vividly described army life in World War I and tried to warn his fellow soldiers about Germany's threat in the years following the war. They'll experience the courage of soldiers like Bruce Fenchel, who fought all five of the major battles of Europe under the command of General Patton. Blasted in a tank explosion at Chaumont, he hung onto a gas truck with frozen hands long enough to be dropped at a Belgian family home and pub, where he was hidden in the attic. After fierce battles at Bastogne and the Rhine River, he witnessed terrifying sites of torture apparatus and death when his division liberated the Ohrdurf Concentration Camp. They'll meet Red Cross worker Peggy Henry, who was plunged into a harrowing story of survival during the Battle of the Bulge when she and two local women had to flee the advancing German army under cover of darkness. They'll read about the bonds of brotherhood experienced by Walter Morris, who trained the Army's first all-black paratrooper unit. They'll read about families and sweethearts on the homefront, and share the remarkable stories of "ordinary" wives like Margerie Gufein, who each month during World War II and the Korean War created a handmade "Goofein Journal" to update her husband on family happenings. Photographs of these touching homemade newspapers illustrate the text. They'll share the extraordinary story of a husband and wife who volunteered to go to Vietnam together rather than be separated by the draft, and meet Rod Hinsh, an army special forces fighter assigned to the highly unusual task of guarding USO performer Martha Ray during the Vietnam War. Twenty-three years after the war, Ray vividly recalled their first meeting. They'll also see how the legacy of war continues in the modern world, experiencing how the story of was has changed with emails, digital photographs, and embedded journalists. And finally they'll read the heartwarming tale of Ray Shipley, a veteran of World War II and Korea, who each day for the past two months has been rising at 6am to go to BWI airport to extend a handshake and free phone cards to soldiers returning from Iraq on leave. Though he has no official authority, he carries their bags, points them to their connecting flight, and never forgets to say "welcome home."Through the diverse stories collected in this volume emerges the moving story of America at war. This is a book that will provoke memories and thoughtful reflection and truly celebrate the sacrifices made by the millions of veterans who have fought to defend our freedom.