Storytellers in Training

Stories need to be told.

Thousands of stories of lives cut short are behind the 58,282 names etched on the granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And there are millions more of the veterans who came home, their families and the lives they have touched along the way.

But our small staff here at VVMF needs help in capturing and telling those stories, so we’ve enlisted the help of A Backpack Journalist.

The Atlanta-based program provides curriculum, workshops and events for military kids ages 6-18. The students learn journalistic reporting, broadcasting and scripting, public speaking, photography, film making and digital storytelling, as well as song writing and Cowboy photography.

The Backpackers are now taking assignments to cover The Wall That Heals in their areas as VVMF’s replica of memorial travels the country.

Their work will be featured here on the blog, on our Website and social media (Facebook and Twitter) and also on the Backpack Journalist sites. You can find photos of the events they cover on Flickr.

The partnership is an opportunity for young journalists to learn about the Vietnam War, the lives veterans lived before and after the war, and in some cases, the families they left behind. All of the veterans and their families, as well as those associated with VVMF programs, have powerful stories to tell and who better to help us tell those stories than the children of today’s service members?

Earlier this month, one of the Backpackers, Cheyenne, met a VVMF volunteer at a traveling wall event in El Campo, Texas. Christine Owen was manning the education tent there and her fiance’s name is on The Wall.

This is what she told Cheyenne:

“This is not my first time viewing the wall; I have been several times to Washington D.C. I have also visited the traveling wall several times as well; if it’s ever close I try and go. I think it’s a very wonderful thing that they have done with the wall here in El Campo ,Texas. It’s truly a healing experience, there are wounds very deep in these men and coming and seeing the wall really helps them. When the wall comes out it’s like you are bringing these men home to where they grew up. It’s a different environment here than, in Washington D.C it feels like your walking on holy ground. Where here you feel like you’re at your home and people are much more comfortable coming here.”

Expect much more from the Backpackers as this partnership develops and we will be sharing their work with you here. A Backpacker covered TWTH in Owego, N.Y. and we should have those stories for you soon!