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NEH & War and Veterans

The Endowment has funded more than a hundred projects about military history, wartime leaders, and those who fought in America’s Twentieth Century wars. It has also funded programs designed to be of particular interest and use to today’s veterans.

  • A hundred American military and civilian personnel who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have been immortalized by artist Matt Mitchell with the help of a grant from the NEH. The 100 Faces of War Experience has travelled to galleries, museums, and other public spaces around the country, where the paintings are accompanied by a personal statement and brief biography.
  • Filmmaker Ken Burns’ hugely popular documentaries, The Civil War and The War, about World War II, have brought the stories of soldiers and veterans to millions of television viewers and to schoolchildren across America.
  • Founded in 1997, the Maine Humanities Council has developed a Literature and Medicine program. Using a specially published anthology, Echoes of War, dozens of health care facilities and Veterans Administration hospitals across the country have collaborated with state humanities councils to convene regular reading groups in which medical staff learn through literature to empathize with the traumas experienced by the veterans and severely wounded soldiers whom they serve.
  • The Minnesota Historical Society has produced an exhibition titled Our Lives, Our Stories: Minnesota’s Greatest Generation and other educational programs exploring the experience of the generation that fought World War II. The exhibit later traveled to other states.
  • To spur public discussion and appreciation of the experiences of American veterans, the Aquila Theatre Company will put on free performances of ancient Greek dramas in 100 libraries across the country, primarily in underserved, rural and inner-city communities. The programs will use classical themes like “the returning warrior” to bring veterans and their families together with the general public for a shared experience of Greek theater followed by town hall style discussion of issues.
  • The papers of prominent American military leaders s are a vital part of our cultural heritage and NEH has undertaken to preserve and make them accessible to the public. NEH grants supported the editing of the collected papers of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and of Gen. George C. Marshall, who won the Nobel Prize for his leadership in directing the Marshall Plan.
  • The historical artifacts at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, Wisconsin, include a fully restored P-38 Lightning Aircraft similar to one the museum’s namesake flew in the Pacific theater. To preserve this and other treasures, the museum is developing a plan to improve storage of its extensive wartime collection.
  • The Flower of the Dragon, Inc has planned a project to preserve historical records of the Vietnam War by collecting the personal papers organizational records, newsletters, photographs and oral histories of Vietnam veterans.
  • The Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida is preserving records documenting United States Naval Special Warfare operations since World War II.
  • To inform a broad audience about life on an aircraft carrier, NEH awarded a grant to plan an exhibition City at Sea: An Intrepid Interpretive Guide. The exhibition is designed to show how the diverse crew of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid lived and worked together and participated in world events from 1943 to 1969.
  • United States Policy in Korea, 1950-53 was the subject of a grant awarded to James I. Matray of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, and Carol Schiess of Boise State University received a grant to study Vietnam War Literature: Telling a Different Truth.
  • The Oakland Museum/Museum of California Foundation won a grant to plan a traveling exhibition and other educational programs to explore the impact and legacy of the Vietnam conflict on American life and culture.
  • The Georgia Humanities Council funds a Veterans Oral History Project at Valdosta State University in which teachers and students learn interviewing and transcription skills before recording the stories of Georgia’s WWII veterans. Transcripts are preserved in the Valdosta State University archives and at the Library of Congress.