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CCU establishes new Center for Military and Veterans Studies

November 4, 2009

Coastal Carolina University has announced the creation of a new center that will recognize local American military veterans and preserve a record of their service.

The Center for Military and Veterans Studies at Coastal Carolina University will officially open in January on campus. The center is partnering with the U.S. Library of Congress to collect and preserve the memoirs and records of local military veterans, while encouraging public appreciation for veterans and their contributions to the nation.

Located in the Universitys Foundation Center on U.S. 501 on the Universitys east campus, the new center will host interviews with veterans and accept donations of oral history, memoirs, documents and photographs -- all of which will be cataloged and preserved as permanent collections of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. Through the Center for Military and Veterans Studies, the University is also establishing a veterans association for students, faculty and staff.

If youre a veteran of the American armed forces, Coastal Carolina University is interested in your story, and has established a new on-campus center to help you record it and preserve it, said Coastal Carolina University President David A. DeCenzo. Our veterans deserve recognition and appreciation for service to our country, and their experiences deserve to be recorded and preserved. Were also broadening our outreach to veterans within the University family of students, faculty and staff.

A principal sponsor of the new centers activities is Crescent Bank, which is headquartered in Myrtle Beach. "We at Crescent Bank are pleased to be a principal activity sponsor for the new CCU Center for Military and Veterans' Studies," said M.J. Huggins, III, president of Crescent Bank. "Veterans are vital part of the fabric of America, and there are many here along the Grand Strand. It is our honor to be a part of this new endeavor and look forward to supporting it for years to come."

Author and historian Rod Gragg has been named director of the Center for Military and Veterans Studies, which is a companion project to the Universitys popular ROTC program. An adjunct professor of history at the university, Gragg is the author of 16 books on American history, including eight on topics in military history. A former instructor in the University of South Carolina ROTC program, Gragg was the longtime host of SCETVs War Memories television program, which featured oral history by veterans of the Second World War. He was a regional director in the U.S. Department of Defenses World War II Commemorative Committee, and his books have earned the Fletcher Pratt Award and the James I. Robertson Award for military history.

The mission of the Veterans Center is to encourage appreciation for the veterans among us and the sacrifices so many have made on our behalf, while preserving a record of their service through memoirs, photographs and documents, Gragg said. Partnering with the Library of Congress means that our local veterans experiences can become part of the Librarys permanent holdings, and be available to historians, researchers and the general public.

The Center for Military and Veterans Studies will follow established Library of Congress standards, Gragg said, as it works with local veterans to record interviews, and collect memoirs, documents and photographs relating to veterans military service. Donated materials and recorded oral histories will be forwarded to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There, a collection will be established in the name of each veteran in the permanent holdings of the Library of Congress. Eventually, each collection will be available for study by scholars, genealogists, researchers and the general public.

The Veterans History Projects mission is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans, said Monica Mohnidra, senior liaison specialist with the Library of Congress. It is only through the dedicated volunteer efforts of and collaboration with institutions such as the Center for Military and Veterans Studies that the Veterans History Project is able to collect, record, and preserve these important histories for generations to come.

Oral history interviews compose a key element of the mission at CCUs Center for Military and Veterans Studies, Gragg said. Volunteers will be trained to interview veterans and record oral history of their experiences, which will be supplemented by collateral photographs and documents donated by each veteran. All veterans who are interviewed will be given a DVD copy of the interview for themselves and their families.

Families of deceased veterans may donate military memoirs, records and photographs that belonged to their relatives or ancestors, and collections will be established at the Library of Congress in the names of the deceased veterans. Interviews will be conducted at the Veterans Center office at Coastal Carolina University, and will be scheduled by appointment, beginning in January.

Veterans who wish to donate documents, photographs and memoirs, or be interviewed Veterans History Project, may contact the new CCU center at 843-234-3431. Oral history interviews by American military veterans, along with letters, diaries and documents such as these, will be accepted for historic preservation by the new Center for Military and Veterans Studies at Coastal Carolina University, which will begin operations in January. Author and historian Rod Gragg of Conway is the new centers director.