JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard is honoring its Soldiers and Airmen in ceremonies across the state as part of a project to capture the Guard's history and honor those who have worn the uniform since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Remember My Service project ensures that members of the Missouri National Guard receive a book and interactive DVD chronicling the Guard's service since 9/11, said adjutant general Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner.
"As this project unfolded, it gave us a chance to reflect, as an organization, on all we have accomplished in the past 10 years," Danner said. "We've deployed more than 11,000 Soldiers and Airmen to overseas contingency operations, while at the same time meeting our domestic mission through supporting missions like Hurricane Katrina and the Joplin tornado. I am in awe of the accomplishments of our troops."
The project is the result of months of research and collection on the part of Guard historians and senior commands, said Capt. Alan Brown, the Missouri National Guard's command historian. The project includes a journal, in which Soldiers and Airmen can write down their recollections of deployment, as well as an interactive DVD, which includes photos, documents and interviews with Guard members.
From a historical perspective, the project will be a valuable tool for future generations, Brown said.
"When you're living history like we are, it's too easy to forget about how important documenting it is," Brown said. "Through this project, we've literally written our own history. This project gives faces and voices to the thousands of Missouri National Guardsmen who have sacrificed for their countries."
The books and DVDs will be distributed to units at ceremonies throughout the state, Brown said. Many of these ceremonies will take place at the December drill, which is particularly significant because many units hold Family days during that time.
"For every Soldier and Airman who deploys, there are people back home who sacrifice just as much," Brown said. "One of the aspects of this project that I am most proud of is that we've included Family members and what they experienced as part of the overall story."
Since 9/11, the Missouri National Guard has deployed Soldiers and Airmen to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and dozens of other areas to support overseas contingency operations, Danner said. Through the Remember My Service book and DVD, Danner said he hopes Guardsmen will better understand the context of their individual deployments.
"When you're in a theater, you are not sure how your mission fits in with the bigger picture." said Danner, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "When you see the scope of what we've done on this DVD, I think it will help our Soldiers and Airmen realize how important their individual missions have been to the overall effort."
As a combat veteran, Brown said the DVD, in particular, brought a lot of memories back.
"Once you're home, it's easy to take things like your Family and your home for granted," Brown said. "Looking back at this project, it's reminded me just how much service members sacrifice when they take that oath."
Although American forces will be leaving Iraq at the end of the year, the Missouri National Guard is still deploying Soldiers overseas. Brown said he and fellow historian Charles Machon, of the Museum of Missouri Military History, will continue to gather information and tell their story.
"This project has shown us a new way to document history as it happens, and we plan on using some of the skills and resources we've incorporated in the Remember My Service project to future projects," Brown said. "We owe it to our Soldiers and Airmen and their Families to make sure that their story is told."
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