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Veteran's Day: Oral Histories from Brooklyn Soldiers

Nov 9, 2011 2:24 PM | 0 comments

Last year at this time I posted a story on our blog about Private Justin Grishman. He was serving in the Korean War and stationed in Japan, where he worked as a radio operator. Sifting through Eagle clippings and photos from our collection, I tried to piece together the story of a most unique and sentimental request made by the young soldier: he wanted Borough President Cashmore to send him a street sign from the corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues, so that, though half-a-world-away, he could still feel at home. If you watched our new video introducing the Brooklyn Collection this will all sound familiar to you, as in it we use Grishman's story to highlight our holdings and services.


In any case, at the close of that post last year I encouraged readers to seek out more stories about America's veterans at the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project website. At that time, however, my referral came with the caveat that the oral histories of Brooklyn soldiers, recorded by Brooklyn librarians, had yet to be uploaded. Today I'm happy to report that this is no longer the case! If you visit the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project website, and search the veterans collection by contributor/interviewer affiliation with the keyword Brooklyn Public Library, you'll find all of the interviews conducted by our librarians. Or, to save you the trouble of all that, if you just click on this link, you'll find a list of all those interviewed arranged alphabetically by last name.

Particularly poignant for us here at the library is the interview you'll find at the top of this list. On September 27, 2011, Brooklyn Public Library lost one of its most beloved employees, Special Officer John Basile. Though he is gone, in this recording you can listen as Special Officer Basile talks about his time serving in the Vietnam War.