The American Veteran Project was founded in January 2013 after a year of informal interviews and photo shoots. The project’s roots lie within a photography project undertaken by myself beginning in late 2011. Chasing a desire to learn more about military history and more specifically, the human aspect of war, I began photographing WWII veterans in Pittsburgh, PA. The project grew quickly and videotaped interviews were soon accompanying the portraits to give viewers a deeper look into each veteran’s experiences.
The goals of the project are straightforward and concise, it is a promise to the small percentage of the population that stepped up when needed by the United States, either by choice or through a draft. It is a promise to always remember what they did for us all, the sacrifices they made and the decisions they were ready to make. The mission of the American Veteran Project is short and direct:
Record veterans’ stories today, so others may learn tomorrow.
This project does not exist to exploit the stories of veterans for financial or political gain. Every story is presented unfiltered, as told by the veteran who was there. As a result, there are, at times, sensitive discussions about war and death, sometimes described using harsh language. These moments are not meant to glorify war or to be seen as a “selling point.” These are the stories of those who were there, as they remember it.
The project has seen tremendous growth since its beginnings just a few years ago. I’ve explored the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, sat inside a C-47 that flew over Normandy beaches on the morning of June 6, 1944, and explored the depths of the US Navy’s largest battleship, to name a few. The project is designed to be seen as a living museum, instead of reading a placard about a Stuart light tank, viewers can listen as Don Evans describes the moment his was destroyed by a German round, forcing him to bail out but not before pulling two other crewmen to safety.