Witness to War Foundation
The Witness to War Foundation (the “Foundation” or “Witness to War”) is a non-profit organization based in Peachtree Corners, which focuses on recording the oral histories of combat veterans through video interviews. The goal of the Foundation is to capture as many firsthand accounts of combat veteran memories as practicable.
Founded in 2001, with the interviewing of WWII veterans, the Foundation now also has captured the stories of veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm (Iraq), Panama, Grenada, and other U.S.-involved conflicts. The Foundation is striving to answer the question, “What was it like to be there?” and is hoping to provide a lasting legacy for those who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedoms. The Foundation wants to capture these memories so they can serve as historical records of past wars, long after our veterans have left us, not only for their families, but also for the general public. The mission is simple. Preserve the stories for the veterans and their families; Honor the veterans for their service and sacrifice; and Educate the general public about military service and what it means to America. This service is provided at no cost to any veteran, which includes providing DVD copies to them and their families.
Witness to War was founded by local entrepreneur, Tom Beaty, at the same time he was starting his management consulting firm, Insight Sourcing Group (www.InsightSourcing.com). A student of military history, Tom recognized the need for preserving the stories of our veterans, especially those from WWII, while there was still time to do so. The rapidly decreasing population of WWII veterans spurred Tom to begin the Foundation with little to no video experience of his own, because he felt the need was so important. Starting out by interviewing members of the Atlanta WWII Roundtable (www.AtlantaWWIIRoundtable.org), Tom eventually started interviewing veterans from all around the Atlanta area, and before long, across the entire Southeast. Now, 16 years later, the Foundation is managed by a full-time Director, Emily Carley, and full-time interviewer, Martin Madert. To date, more than 2,200 interviews have been conducted with veterans across the entire country. Witness to War will interview any veteran who has served overseas in wartime.
In 2006, Witness to War developed a website (www.WitnessToWar.org) with the mission to bring all of this captured footage to the public in an edited, consumable format. Interviews are broken down into two to ten minute vignettes, categorized by war, branch of service, perspective, type of experience, and theater of operation. Witness to War also has captured the stories of those who were not combat veterans themselves, but who have lived through the trials of war, such as Holocaust and internment camp survivors, civilians of war-torn countries, and those who took care of the wounded. The website now boasts more than 5,000 individual stories pulled from the full length interviews, and new content is added on a daily basis through the help of a three-person, part-time editing team.
If you asked anyone on the Witness to War team why they feel that this program is so vitally important, no one could sum it up quite as well as early participant and Witness to War champion (to whom the group’s logo is dedicated) John Souther, who served with the 1st Armored Division in WWII. During his interview he said, “I had good men, best of American soldiers. Trained to fight. Never give you any trouble, never any trouble. Every man did his job. We owe our life to the ingenuity of the American G.I. Good men.”
Honoring, thanking, and creating a sense of appreciation for our nation’s veterans has become the mission of everyone within the Foundation. So, if you, or someone you know, would like to share stories with Witness to War, please contact Martin Madert at (770) 628-0024 or email Emily Carley at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Caption: Jon Keen, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Afghanistan