Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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December 4, 2009

Audio Slide Show: Veterans share their memories

Greenup County chosen for oral history project

GREENUP — It’s been more than 60 years since Carl Cooke landed on the beachhead at Anzio and the memories are getting hazy.

Germans lobbed shells from big guns miles away. He and his comrades in the 3rd Infantry Division waited weeks before they could move inland.

Once they broke through they moved on to Rome and then to France. At one point he eluded capture by the Germans. “I hid,” he explained simply.

Cooke earned a Bronze Star but he doesn’t like to talk much about it. “I don’t think he likes to be a hero,” said his wife Ruth.

Luckily, Cooke shared his World War II experiences with an interviewer for a state oral history project and his recorded reminiscences are now archived for posterity.

He and other veterans gathered at the Greenup County Library Thursday for a formal ceremony thanking them and presenting the histories to the library for its collection.

Greenup and Jefferson counties were recommended by the Kentucky Historical Society as pilot locations for the project, which is an offshoot of the Veterans History Project, a national initiative by the Library of Congress to preserve the memories of America’s fighting men and women.

The histories will be archived at the society and the Library of Congress as well as the Greenup library. Each participating veteran receives a copy too.

The state project is modeled after a grass-roots effort in Garrard County that collected 50 histories, said Lisa Aug, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Veterans Affairs. The state Department of Libraries recommended Greenup County for its strong library and community, Aug said.

Library volunteers, mostly people who are active in genealogical studies, conducted the interviews for the histories.

After collecting basic biographical information, they asked a few open-ended questions and allowed the veterans to talk.

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