The U.S. loses hundreds of World War II veterans every day. As veterans leave, so to do their memories and stories of life at war and behind enemy lines.
Lindsborg author Ann Parr realized the importance of those memories and the need to put veterans’ thoughts, stories and photos together, in one place, to help preserve not only the people that fought for our country but also the effects the war had on families and the McPherson County and Lindsborg communities.
Parr, in cooperation with Marla Elmquist, Vision_Tek Center director, and several project consultants, has organized a campaign to encourage veterans and their families to donate their stories and photos to the Smoky Valley Writers project.
Such projects have been organized in other counties throughout Kansas and after helping with a similiar project in Clay County, Parr said the success and the experience of helping veterans put their memories on paper.
Starting in January, the writers will work with Lindsborg Middle School and Smoky Valley High School students, who will transcribe the veterans thoughts and compile them into a book.
The project will involved a group of veterans learning how to tell their story and put thoughts into words. Writers will chose an event, theme or a way to capture general impressions of a World War II experience. Visually-impaired participants will record their stories while hearing-impaired participants are provided one-on-one guidance.  
Parr said the project is an opportunity for veterans to remember and recount their experiences.
“I’d like each writer to be reminded of the value of what veterans did for our country and have a chance to re-remember it in the context of today’s world,” Parr said. “Don’t you suppose they might be amazed to recall what they did as such young people and how important their contribution became in the big picture? I am very invested in having these stories preserved (before it’s too late) and available for our community and to have our students work with them and hear their stories first hand.”
Once the book is completed, it will be forwarded to the publisher and the final product will be presented to participants, at no cost, in May. Additional reprints of the book will be available.
Parr said veterans family members with photos or stories to share can also participate in the project.
Parr will host an informational meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at Lindsborg’s Vision_Tek Center, 121 S. Main, for anyone interested in participating in or learning more about the project. Those who want to enroll (at no cost) may sign up at this meeting.  Twenty writers will become the first group of Smoky Valley Writers.  
The project, Parr said, has the ability to build bridges between generations and among people throughout the community.
“As I visit throughout the community about what’s planned, faces light up, memories click in, and names pop out,” Parr said. “Anyone my age and older has very personal memories about that time in our country’s history. I feel like we’re taking a trip up the attic stairs where we’ve left treasures that have been forgotten, perhaps neglected. Think about the process of bringing back that time that was so important in our country’s history and in our personal histories and looking at it in partnership with a 21st century student’s perspective. Imagine a strong link being created between the generations. Stories do that, and I think we have an incredible opportunity to build bridges with this project.”