• Patrick Russell

Making History

Next week I am going on the road with my non-profit, the Making History Project, on an American Heartland Tour to conduct Veteran oral history interviews. This trip will last more than a month as I drive approximately 5,124 miles through 15 States and the small towns that make America great.


So instead of talking about mediation or negotiation this week, I thought I would highlight this trip and the importance of volunteering and helping others.


Volunteering and Helping Others


Every day we are making history, quite literally. What you chose to do and how you spend your time has a ripple effect that impacts future events and people. Karma says you are exactly where you are supposed to be based on what you have done. So the question is, are you using your time wisely?


I think you would agree with me that we are more than just lawyers. We can be spouses, parents, and responsible citizens. But what else can we be in those moments in between? It is in these moments that we become fuller, derive a purpose, can help others, and live a meaningful life.


Making History Project


I started the Making History Project back in 2015. The Making History Project is a non-profit whose purpose is to preserve the memories and stories of combat veterans through video oral history interviews. The oral history interviews are being archived with the US Library of Congress through its Veterans History Project as well as with the University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.


My interest in preserving Veterans' stories arose from my interest in history, World War II (my grandfather was a WWII veteran), and my trip to Normandy, France. While in Normandy during a D-Day anniversary, I was able to sit down and speak with numerous World War II veterans. What impacted me the most was how eager these World War II veterans were to tell me their stories but also how raw the emotions were after all that time.


Given the raw emotion I saw, it appeared evident to me that Veterans often suffer trauma from their combat experiences that can be a hidden and invisible injury. To that end, one purpose of my oral history interviews is to explore combat trauma and PTSD, and its similarities or differences across the generations from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and on to our current conflicts.


Leaving a Legacy


There are numerous outcomes for the oral history interviews that I conduct. First, many Veterans want to share their story and by doing so, they often express a sense of relief and satisfaction when they are done. Secondly, family members receive copies of the video oral history interview and thereby have a preserved memory of a loved one. Many times, a family member has told me that they learned a new story for the very first time when they heard the interview. Third, the oral history interviews capture a personal view of history for future generations when they are preserved in digital archives like the US Library of Congress. Finally, my comparison and study of combat trauma across the generations will hopefully increase awareness and the appreciation for the sacrifices that all of our Veterans make on our behalf.


The Takeaway


To have a fuller life, to have impact and meaning, find a way to help others through a project that you are interested in. You will be surprised how rewarding this can be and also how it will often compliment your professional life. When you do something that you enjoy and that has a purpose, it is often not work at all.


If you want to learn more about the Making History Project, go ahead and check out this article from the Florida Bar News.


Stay well,

Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

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