Library of Congress denies "fraud" charges in oral histories collected by Vets project
Some strong but, unfortunately, inaccurate words have been used regarding a small handful of the 50,000+ oral histories of the Veterans History Project (part of the Library’s American Folklife Center).
News reporters and others have been using terms like “fraud” or “misrepresentation” to describe the incorrect listing of 24 veterans on the VHP Web site as having been awarded the Medal of Honor (AKA the Congressional Medal of Honor).
Soon, and elsewhere on the LOC Web site, we will be issuing this statement:
STATEMENT BY THE VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT OF
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS AMERICAN FOLKLIFE CENTER
Recent media coverage has portrayed veterans who have donated interviews to the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center as having made “fraudulent” claims regarding the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Veterans History Project (PL 106-380) is a congressionally mandated, public-participation oral history project to gather and preserve the personal wartime recollections of veterans. Its objective is to build a body of personal histories, housed in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, which illuminate the human element and further enrich our own understanding of Americans who have served in 20th- and 21st-century conflicts.
It is not an official military record archive and is intended only to supplement, not substitute for, the historical record. As such, the VHP, which currently houses more than 50,000 oral histories and collections, does not verify the accuracy of accounts that are provided to the project.
VHP periodically verifies collections that reference the Medal of Honor, which are a matter of widely accessible public records, and we have enhanced our internal systems to help ensure the accuracy of future Medal of Honor recipients. However, our review of these most recent claims indicates that there has been no intent whatsoever to provide false information.
Releasing the names of honorable individuals gratuitously and wrongfully as having misrepresented the truth does them a disservice, and undermines this effort to preserve important, personal stories of war that otherwise would have been lost.
The truth is, in investigating the 24 cases in question, we have no indication to believe the errors were anything but innocent. For instance, many of those veterans were awarded the Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal by the government of South Vietnam. But somewhere in the chain of information, whether in transcription or database entry, it was inadvertently shortened to “Medal of Honor.
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