Veterans Oral History

On view through February 11, 2017

Five local organizations are coming together with the shared interest in giving voice to the legacy of men and women from West Central Illinois who have served in the armed forces. At the heart of the project is the common interest of providing veterans an opportunity to share their experiences as a way to build community, as well as for others to gain insights.  Often individual stories are not a part of current conversation or the historical narrative that surrounds conflicts.  Veterans’ experiences in the armed services constitute a valuable treasure that these organizations wish to preserve for future generations.

To achieve this goal, a partnership has been formed from area organizations including the Buchanan Center for the Arts; the Western Illinois University’s SITREP: Veteran Perspectives on Combat and Peace magazine; the Warren County History Museum; the Western Illinois Museum; and the Western Illinois University Veterans Resource Center.  The collective is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and listening to the stories of veterans and service members from the Western Illinois region.

This exhibit is one way for the public to learn more about and support local veterans.  Oral histories are a powerful way for veterans to document their experiences. These first-hand accounts bring point of view and personal impressions to the historical narrative, informing our broader interpretation of these significant events.  The selection of recordings on display are a sample of the over 65 interviews the museum proudly preserves in its collection.

The Western Illinois Museum and the Warren County Museum are looking for veterans or active service members who would be willing to be interviewed about their time in the military.  Speak with the museum staff for more information.

Listen to an excerpt of an oral history recorded by John Moon on October 5, 2011.

John Moon
John Moon

John Moon was born in Macomb, Illinois, on April 3, 1916. He grew up on West Fisk Street with his parents, four brothers, and five sisters. In December 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, after looking at his wife and son, he wrote, “How could I not enlist…making the world and my family safe from any more wars?” Consequently, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Moon served in the Marine Corps 5th Division which served in the Pacific Theater and saw major action during the battle of Iwo Jima.  For thirteen days, Moon fought his way with his detachment to one of the three airports on the island before being shot in the leg. He and another injured soldier worked their way back down to the beaches where he was placed on a hospital ship.

At 100 years old, Moon is believed to be the oldest surviving Marine from the battle of Iwo Jima.