(WLAX/WEUX) – It would be hard enough, writing one biography. Imagine trying to write 400-thousand of them. A history buff is on a mission to do just that. Jeremy Hubbard shows us how he hopes to give a voice to every U.S service member killed in World War II.
We see a field of heroes who served their country, but Don Milne sees tens of thousands of stories, desperate to be told and he wants to tell as many of them as possible.
Milne lives in Utah and visited Denver’s Fort Logan National Cemetery as part of his new project, Stories Behind the Stars.
He’s spent the last three years researching and writing about the fallen heroes of World War II. His goal is to compile short histories of each of the 400-thousand plus American service members killed in that war.
Don Milne said, “I got into this just because I started this as a hobby, just because my kids are older, and I have some free time. Every day I would write about somebody who died during world war ii. I wrote 1200 of those stories between the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the 75th anniversary of the signing of the treaty with Japan onboard the battleship Missouri.”
In the end, he wants to create a searchable database, even a smartphone app, so users could visit a place like this, scan a name on a headstone and be taken straight to a webpage that tells the soldier’s story.
“Yep, that’s his story and got it all written up here so someone could read it while they’re visiting the gravesite,” said Milne.
“I think it will give them an idea of what freedoms we have in this country because these people paid the price.”
It isn’t going to be easy. So far, he’s only compiled about 12-hundred profiles.
So, he’s enlisting help, researching these enlisted men and women. He wants family members and friends to submit stories about their heroes who died. And volunteers to help write about these historic men and women.
Milne said, “They just visit gravesites, find the name of someone who died in World War II, and write their story. It only takes an hour or two to write a story, we give you access to websites like ancestry.com, newspapers, fold 3, if you can write an obituary, you can write a story.”
Already, people from all over the country and all over the world have offered to take part.
“We don’t have a lot of professional genealogists or historians that are helping us out. It’s mostly just people that have some free time, they love our country, they want to see these stories remembered, and so they’re writing these stories. It’s amazing,” said Milne.
His objective may seem ambitious, overwhelming, and impossible.
But compared to the goal these heroes fought for, in faraway lands, more than 75 years ago.
It’s the least he can do.
“There’s no reason that in the year 2020 we can’t have gravesites that are more than just names on stone,” said Milne.
For Veterans’ Voices, I’m Jeremy Hubbard.