StoryCorps began in 2003, dedicated to presenting everyday Americans with the opportunity to record and share their stories. Their method is simple: get two people (family members or close friends) in a room and have one interview the other. The participants are presented with a free CD at the end of the session and the recording is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
This deceptively simple premise has produced remarkable pieces over the past ten years, including this decades-spanning love story whose animation went viral a few years ago. StoryCorps has become a weekly staple of NPR’s Morning Edition and has a wide following on its own website.
In 2012, StoryCorps launched the Military Voices Initiative which, according to its website, records, shares, and preserves the stories of post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members, and their families. David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, said that as he spoke with veterans and servicemen and women throughout the country, he heard stories he had never heard before, according to an article on Current.org. When he asked them why they hadn’t told their combat stories, they replied, “No one ever asked.”
StoryCorps asked, and now a nation is listening. The result is a number of diverse, compelling, and ultimately moving testimonies of commitment and sacrifice. There’s the mother explaining to her two young children about her deployment, the father who tells of his journey to the place where his son was killed by a roadside bomb, and the Iraq veteran who greeted her wife’s casket as it arrived from Afghanistan.
The Military Voices Initiative reminds us that the men and women risking their lives overseas are more than a statistic. They are someone’s brother, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend. Now, with the help of StoryCorps and public radio, their unique, individual, and important stories are heard by a wide, national audience, and will be preserved for future generations to come.