Preserving history for future generation is just one task undertaken by the Thomaston-Upson Archives and Upson Historical Society.
The living history project the two groups coordinate allows veterans the opportunity to share their stories so that it will never be lost.
It began over a year ago, concentrating on World War II veterans.
“It started dwelling on my mind, how fast we were losing our veterans,” said Britty Dickens, a World War II veteran who was involved in starting the project. “The numbers were around 1,000 a day, which can be hard to realize. It started with wanting to hold a special Veterans Day recognizing the veterans and the idea mushroomed.”
Interviews were conducted around town of anyone willing to tell his or her story. Albert Edmonson, also a WWII veteran, and Walter Brown kept the project going recording 19 war experiences.
Now those stories have been given back to the owners with a special DVD presentation at the Archives Monday afternoon.
“This is our chance to recognize those who participated in the living history project,” said Wesley Brown, historical society president. “Britty Dickens put the wheels in motion, but there were many people who put grease to the wheel or pushed it out of the mud when they were stuck.”
Brown recognized Archivist Penny Cliff, Bonnie Smith, Jeanie Hayes and The Thomaston Times for their efforts.
Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold attended the presentation and thanked the society for their efforts in recognizing veterans.
“I want to say thank you for all you've done to honor our veterans,” he said. “I want you all to know that we haven't quit on the [Greatest Generation Park].
“We hope to have physical construction on the park this year so that our veterans will have a place to be honored in this community.”
Brown presented the first 19 participants including, Kenneth Asmussen, Collis Brasiel, Dennis Daniel, Frederick David, J.D. Dickens, Calvin S. Ellington, Jewel Bridges Smith Farr, Sam Holliman, Love A. Mallory, Lucile Nelson, Hartford Pryor, James Smoot, Julius F. Stephens, Joe White and Albert Edmonson with copies of their interviews. Billy Sanders, John D. White, Joseph Hammonds and Ruth Harper Poirier also participated, but were unable to attend the presentation.
Additional copies will be on hand for public viewing at the Archives. Also, participants will receive copies free of charge or for a donation to the Archives.
Upson-Lee High School Principal Cleve Hendrix has asked for copies of the DVDs to put in the school's media center.
“Our history department works well with the Archives, and Gary Gill even brings classes here for field trips,” he said. “Anything about the history of Upson County we want our students to experience. We don't need to forget that these veterans are the reason we all get to go to school today free.”
There are no plans to end the living history project; instead more veterans are being asked to tell their story. Any veteran is encouraged to call the Archives at 706-646-2437 to set up an interview at their convenience.