About 25 or so years ago I was in a community group of older adults that had received an email from a teacher at a middle school in a northeastern state. She wrote that her students were working on a class project on American involvement in World War II. They wanted to learn from elderly Americans who had lived through those times and thereby learn who had served in the nation’s wartime Armed Forces and Merchant Marine, as well as from civilians on the home front who had produced, serviced, and transported weapons and supplies from where they were made to where they were used. The students wanted to hear from people who cared for the wounded and helped in other ways.
The teacher noted that information already received had generated questions among the students. The result had been a Q&A exchange conducted in follow-up communications. At the project’s conclusion, the students’ teacher reported to the electronic community that the project had been a great success: the students got history lessons from those who had lived it. The narrators, many of whom were long retired, had an audience for reminiscences that might not otherwise have surfaced. Together with the students, they built a bridge from the 1940s to the 1980s-90s and, in doing so, had contributed to the historical records of an important era in American history.