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Sylvania resident Andrew "Bud" Fisher has spent a lot of time with military veterans in the past 10 years and is to share his experiences during a presentation Friday at Lourdes University.
Mr. Fisher is the local coordinator for the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, which has been collecting face-to-face interviews with wartime veterans and preserving them as oral history. The more than 500 such interviews he has conducted with veterans from across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan are among the more than 75,000 that are on file at the Library of Congress archive and that also are kept at the University of Toledo's Ward M. Canaday Center.
The project is the largest collection of oral history in the United States, according to the Library of Congress. Congress authorized it in 2000.
At Lourdes, Mr. Fisher is to discuss the project and his work on it.
He is to speak at 10 a.m. in the Francisan Center. Refreshments are to be served an hour earlier. He said he hopes to take questions as well.
The appearance is part of the university's Lifelong Learning speakers series, according to Laura Megeath, who oversees the program.
She said Mr. Fisher was specifically requested as a speaker and that his appearance was a perfect fit for the series.
"We wanted someone who has a very broad appeal, whether someone lives in Ohio or Michigan or is young or old," she explained.
Mr. Fisher, 81, is an Army veteran who served stateside during the Korean War.
He has close ties to local veterans groups.
He also is to speak Wednesday to the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, which meets at 2 p.m. at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center, 2121 Garden Lake Place in South Toledo.
He also works with Perrysburg's Way Public Library, which is assembling its own archive of recorded veterans' interviews.
Mr. Fisher's many hours of interviews have been distilled into two books published by the Urban Affairs Center Press at UT. They are What a Time It Was, a compilation of his talks with World War II veterans, and the recently released 30 Below on Christmas Eve, a collection of interviews with Korean War veterans.
Both are available at Amazon.com and at the UT book store.
Mr. Fisher said each participating veteran was given a copy of the recorded interview for his or her family. "I had a lot of wives and children listen as we were talking and say 'I never knew that,'?" he explained.
Most of the interviews, which were conducted in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, lasted 60 to 90 minutes. The farthest afield he went was to Southfield, Mich., where he interviewed a Tuskegee Airman.
"I thought for a Tuskegee Airman, I could go up there," he explained.
The Tuskegee Airmen was a celebrated group of African-American fighter pilots during World War II, a time when the military was segregated and blacks were denied leadership roles and skilled training.
Another memorable interview was with 106-year-old James Coffey, a World War I-era veteran who was living in a nursing home in North Baltimore and has since died.