The Taps Project
Often, people who visit Creative COW write and as we exchange words, opportunities occur that come as a surprise to all of us. Such an opportunity happened recently that led to the taping of my Father, George Lindeboom, and his story from World War II.
I had been trying for years to get my Father to tell his story, as he is a Pearl Harbor survivor who had spent four years in the Pacific. He had told only a few snippets from his life during World War II..
Fortunately, longtime Creative COW member Wayne Williams wrote Kathlyn one day and thanked her for all that Creative COW has meant to him. She forwarded me his kind letter and I followed the link to see who he was and what he did. When I saw that he was a videographer specializing in recording the stories of veterans, I knew that I had to get hold of him and see if he could get my Father's story on tape. He said he would love to but that he didn't do the interviews and would talk with the gentleman with whom he worked, Ron Langer. Ron has worked for the Veterans Administration for decades as a clinical social worker in the Mental Health Clinic at the Denver VA Medical Center.
Ron Langer, left; Wayne Williams, right
Ron recognized that many Americans have little knowledge of the sacrifices of its military veterans or of the true costs of war. He felt that it was important that the stories of these veterans - especially the WWII veterans who were dying off so quickly - be preserved and shared. Ron also realized that the interviewing skills he had used as a therapist could be utilized in this work.
At the same time, Wayne Williams, a disabled veteran of Southeast Asia, was receiving treatment at the clinic where Ron worked. Wayne had developed PTSD during the Vietnam War, and he struggled with his own personal demons as a result. After years of treatment, he was ready to "give back." He wanted to find a way to help other veterans.
Wayne had an interest in video, and the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Department bought him the equipment to get him started. Wayne was filming events for his church, but he was looking to do more. Wayne's therapist in the clinic suggested that he talk with Ron.
The two men started working together: Ron interviewing and Wayne filming and editing. To this mix, add one COW.
Ron Langer says: "Wayne was hungry to learn all he could about video. With each project he tackled, the more questions he had. He took classes, and he talked with everyone he could find in the Denver area who knew something about the subject. But the best source of information he found was Creative COW. When he had a question, he could go to the forums and find an answer. The COW was so helpful, in fact, that Wayne wrote a 'Thank You' letter to Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom, founders of the COW. "
Wayne's letter really effected Kathlyn and I and we called and talked with him. Soon, we were flying Ron Langer out to interview my Father, while Wayne loaded up his equipment to drive from Colorado to California for the interview.
"Ron's dad, George, was probably the funniest interview we've ever taped," said Wayne. "You could see that his mental wheels were turning and he was two or three moves down the road setting up his next trap to get you with a joke. It was stressful for him to relive his WWII memories but he did with a lot of humor added to the mix."
Ron Langer is a master at getting vets to talk and both my Mother and I were surprised at how easily he got my Father to talk. The interview went on for the better part of an hour and a half. Both my Mother and I learned things about my Father that neither of us had ever heard before. It was a day we'll never forget. Ron Langer says: "It was hard for George to relive these memories and like a lot of veterans he kept much of it to himself. That's pretty common actually but we got a lot of his story.
Each day we lose more than a thousand WWII veterans. To put a human face on this number, think about your father or grandfather, or uncle. Remember how they told you stories about their military experience. Every day we lose more than a thousand of these stories.
"While we can't do much to keep them from dying, we can preserve their stories. The Veterans History Project, sponsored by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/vets), collects the stories of America's war veterans on videotape. To collect these stories, the project depends on volunteers.
The Taps Project (www.tapsproject. org) is a non-profit organization in Denver, CO, whose mission is to collect and share veterans' stories.. The Taps Project is a non-profit project of the National Heritage Foundation, and depends entirely on donations. It is in need of monetary donations as well as equipment and supplies. If you would like to help this worthwhile organization, go to their website, www.tapsproject. org, or you can email Ron Langer, at ron at tapsproject dot org.
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