Veterans History Project shares the voice of veterans

A few months shy of his 91st birthday, Louie Demers has a story to tell.

Over 20 World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans had a chance Wednesday to share their life story.

It's all a part of the nationwide Veteran's History Project.

KHQA spoke with a local veteran to hear his story.

A few months shy of his 91st birthday, Louie Demers has a story to tell.

"Due respect to the guys I served with, they're no longer here and they can't tell their stories," Demers said. "So I'm trying to get the message out that be thankful for what we've got."

As a young adult, he joined the Navy and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Seventy years later, he's finally getting the chance to share his story as part of the Veteran's History Project.

Court reporters and attorneys volunteered as recorders and interviewers of these fragments of history.

While it's not always easy for Demers to talk about his Navy experience, he found this experience gratifying.

"I'm not bashful, I mean I don't like to brag, but I was there, and I did it," Demers said. "And I think that's what this is all about, trying to keep the memories going, just not let stuff fade away, you know."

Demers believes it's important for any veteran to be able to express themselves, something that wasn't common at the time he returned from the war.

"You kept everything bottled up, you know, and that's not healthy for you," Demers said. "You might as well get it out of your system."

Jamie Friye is an Assistant State's Attorney, and she interviewed Demers. She said it felt rewarding to pay tribute to someone who served their nation at such a critical era in history.

"I think it's important, one just for posterity, because we have the opportunity and we're fortunate enough to be able to do that now, with the technology that we have today," Friye said. "So we should take advantage of it. And also because we can learn from history, and I do think it's important to take those lessons."

The interviews will next be sent to the state of Illinois archive's.

The Veteran's History Project hopes the stories will eventually find a home in the Library of Congress.

The project days will also be held on May 28, July 30, Sept. 24 and Nov. 19.

For more information or to make arrangements for an interview, contact Linda Snyder at 217-277-2123.