ACTUAL INTERVIEW OPTION: Instead of viewing the oral history videos, you can choose to interview anyone who has lived through a significant historical event. This person can be a man or woman, young or old, American citizen or foreign. In addition to providing the person’s name, age, and occupation, have them answer questions and summarize their responses in 3-4 pages (please include the questions that you used). YOU MUST write about your own thoughts about this person’s experience and their recounting of the story. What was most interesting? What did you learn?
You can use the following questions or you can design your own interview questions (at least 8-10 questions).
BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR OWN THOUGHTS AND WHAT YOU LEARNED.
Segment 1: For the Record: Record on tape (or notebook) the date, place of the interview, the name of the person being interviewed, and the names of the people attending the interview, including the interviewer and his or her affiliation or relationship to the interviewee. Ask the veteran what branch of the service he or she served in, what war, rank, and where he or she served.
Segment 2: Jogging Memory: Were you drafted or did you enlist? Where were you living at the time? Why did you join? Why did you pick the service branch you joined? Do you recall your first days in service? What did it feel like? Tell me about your boot camp/training experience(s). Do you remember your instructors? How did you get through it?
Segment 3: Experiences: Which war(s) did you serve in ? Where exactly did you go? Do you remember arriving and what it was like? What was your job/assignment? Did you see combat? Were there many casualties in your unit? Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences. Were you a prisoner of war? Tell me about your experiences in captivity and when freed. Were you awarded any medals or citations? How did you get them? Higher ranks may be asked about battle planning. Those who sustained injuries may be asked about the circumstances.
Segment 4: Life: Ask questions about life in the service and/or at the front or under fire. How did you stay in touch with your family? What was the food like? Did you have plenty of supplies? Did you feel pressure or stress? Was there something special you did for “good luck”? How did folks entertain themselves? Were there entertainers? What did you do when on leave? Where did you travel while in the service? Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual event? What were some of the pranks that you or others would pull? Do you have photographs? Who are the people in the photographs? What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers? Did you keep a personal diary?
Segment 5: After Service: Appropriateness of questions will vary if the veteran had a military career. Do you recall the day your service ended? Where were you? What did you do in the days and weeks afterward? Did you work or go back to school? Was it supported by the G.I. Bill? Did you make any close friendships while in the service? Did you continue any of those relationships? For how long? Did you join a veterans organization?
Segment 6: Later Years and Closing: What did you go on to do as a career after the war? Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general? If in a veterans organization, what kinds of activities does your post or association have? Do you attend reunions? How did your service and experiences affect your life? Is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered in this interview?