Senator John ThuneSouth Dakotans from all walks of life have a long history of answering the call to serve in our nation's armed forces. This high rate of service means that South Dakota is home to a great many veterans. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a life in South Dakota that has not been touched by someone who has served our country.
In 2000, Congress authorized the creation of a national Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress. Through this project, Americans have the opportunity to collect and preserve the stories of the veterans who have touched their lives and make them a part of a national celebration of their service. The Veterans History Project encourages people to tape interviews with veterans, or to send copies of letters, diaries, or photos that help share the experience of veterans with the American people.
I recently interviewed my father, Harold Thune, not only so his story could be preserved as part of the Veterans History Project, but also to better understand how the events which transpired over the Pacific during World War II affected the man who returned to Murdo to raise his family and live his life.
Like so many of his generation, the attack on Pearl Harbor inspired my dad to join the Navy, where he was drawn to fighter planes. He flew F-6s and F-8s off the USS Intrepid, where he was involved in several combat missions. He even survived a crash that resulted from a faulty tire bursting on takeoff. Sadly, in his squadron of 54 pilots, 12 did not return home.
The Veterans History Project inspired me to interview my dad and to preserve his memories as a part of our nation's history. Video segments from our interview can be found on my Senate website at: https://www.thune.senate.gov. Just click on the Veterans History Project button.
It has been a meaningful experience for me to learn more about my dad's service during World War II. I would like to encourage South Dakotans to consider participating in the Veterans History Project by interviewing their own loved ones or exploring their war-time writings. We lose part of our history every day, and I hope others will join in capturing these memories to share with family and contribute to this important collection. For more information, please visit: www.loc.gov/vets.