The “Our Veterans, Their Stories” film series begins tonight | News


GOWANDA – The Cattaraugus County Museum and the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services are hosting the free movie premiere tonight at Gowanda’s Hollywood Theater at 7 p.m.

As part of the ongoing ‘Our Veterans, Their Stories’ project, this event will feature a new film series titled ‘Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know’.

This series, consisting of four approximately six-minute films, features four Cattaraugus County veterans sharing their experiences in a format intended to fit into the high school social studies curriculum and be shown to local students.

The chapter titles are “Called to Serve”, “In Country”, “Coming Home”, and “Looking Back”.

The project was developed with the help of two local educators, Katie Wolfgang from the Olean City School District and Dollene Christopher from the Allegany-Limestone Central School District.

Wolfgang and Christopher offered information on topics to cover and length of films, in addition to creating lesson plans to New York State standards. They also introduce each chapter as hosts in the production.

“This project is important because it provides educators with an opportunity to integrate local history into a larger understanding of our national and global history, and also provides students with a way to view these larger issues through the lens of multiple perspectives,” says Christopher, a professor of U.S. and world history and geography. “Whenever we can learn to celebrate our veterans, who play such an important role in our lives, we should.”

Wolfgang says the oral histories of local Vietnam veterans will be an invaluable tool to use in his US history class.

“I enjoyed learning and growing as an educator and collaborating with other local professionals on this project,” she says.

Educators, veterans, or anyone interested in local history are encouraged to attend.

The objective of the films is to give students the opportunity to hear a local perspective of the Vietnam conflict from veterans in their own communities, allowing them to better understand the lasting impact of war in their own neighborhoods.

“When we look at a veteran, we don’t see that they are just an ordinary person who, in the case of Vietnam veterans, was recruited as a child, sent around the world to -be the first time and participated in the horrors of war.” says John Tomerlin, videographer of the project. “They return home and live the rest of their lives with the pain of these memories that never leave them.

“Everyone needs to know what war really is and how it affects a person so they really understand why they say to a vet, ‘Thank you for your service.'”

“Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know” was produced by the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services and the Cattaraugus County Museum as an education-specific offshoot of the “Our Veterans, Their Histories”, the purpose of which is to record the oral histories of local veterans, thereby preserving the human face of American history for generations to come.

In 2021, approximately two dozen Cattaraugus County veterans were interviewed, whose service spanned from World War II to Iraq. Many of these interviews are currently available in a kiosk at the Cattaraugus County Museum as well as on the county’s website, where they can be found at www.cattco.org/veterans-stories.

For more information about this event or the “Our Veterans, Their Stories” project, contact the museum at (716) 353-8200 or Director of Veterans Services Steve McCord at (716) 701-3298.

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