The Herald Bulletin

October 13, 2013

Don McAllister: One of the greatest gifts you can give

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Every day starts a new story – some we’re too late to record.

When it’s time to submit the old monthly column sometimes I’ll have one or two in the hopper, but more often the submission and the writing will come in at a dead heat. When I send the email it goes to two addresses. The first is the general newsroom address. The second was to Steve Dick.

I didn’t know Steve Dick as well as I would have liked. The few times I’ve corresponded with him or met him face-to-face I found him to be a likable guy. He seemed to appreciate this column and what it represented and that meant a lot to me. He impressed me as the kind of guy one would want for a friend.

I didn’t know Steve was a veteran until I read his obituary. We could have interviewed him had I asked. I could have known him as I would have liked. We could be watching him share his experiences, and see his mannerisms and hear his voice as if he were still with us. It really bothers me that I missed that opportunity to give that gift to Steve’s family and friends. It leaves a hole in the bucket that can’t be patched.

Our South Carolina friend Monti Montilo said this about his interview, “My oldest son, after viewing the video, said to me, ‘Dad, this is the best gift you could have ever given me’ – It REALLY touched me — Thank you.” It was a heartfelt response typical of how people have received our project.

If you have served in the military in any capacity at any time we want to record your life story. We’re not out to find glorious war heroes, although we have recorded many. We’re offering a chance to record the life story of any veteran – especially if you think you don’t have much to tell.

This is a casual conversation where we ask questions about the veteran’s early family history, their service history and some post-service history. This is about the person, not just the service.

We do this first for the veteran’s family and friends and then for anyone interested in family, hometown or service history. It takes about three hours, but the time passes quickly. There is no charge for this service and we give the veteran a DVD copy at the end of the interview. This is a chance to do a video biography that could cost over $100 if done commercially, but the veteran gets it for free because they served.

It began when my dad recorded three hours of his life history for his kids. Now we want to do this for your family. We get no compensation except that we make a lot of wonderful friends. I feel so strongly about this that I’m willing to give out my home phone number: 643-9043 (or reach me at the email below).

The second greatest gift my dad gave me was his recorded story.

Don McAllister directs the National Veteran’s Historical Archive. His column appears the second Sunday of each month. He can be reached at and