You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myDaytonDailyNews.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myDaytonDailyNews.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myDaytonDailyNews.com.

Veteran project connects grandson with deceased grandfather


Tom Ratliff was searching the internet to learn more about his deceased grandfather when he discovered an oral history of his military service — all thanks to the Mary L. Cook Public Library’s participation in a national project more than a decade ago.

“I was trying to find his military records online. I stumbled across the Veterans History Project (VHP) maybe a year ago and saw there was a cassette tape of the interview at the Library of Congress. They required an advanced notice, and I would have had to travel to Washington, D.C.,” Ratliff said. “Recently, I looked up the project again and saw he was interviewed by members of the Mary L. Cook Public Library. I went to their site and right there on the page was a YouTube video of the interview.”

For 45 minutes, Richard L. Levering details his military experiences as part of the Library of Congress’ VHP, which seeks to collect and preserve oral histories of veterans to share with future generations.

“None of my family — mom, brother, aunts, uncles or cousins — knew he participated. I think my grandma knew but had never seen the video. There were a few moments in the interview that we all teared up when we watched it individually,” said Ratliff, who lives near Greenfield, Ind., where Levering settled after retiring from the military. “He spoke about how he would do it all over again, because he loved America and loved the Service. He also spoke about how it’s all of our duty to safeguard liberty and keep America free. That was a really good description of who he was, a good snapshot of his character and what made him tick.”

Born May 15, 1926, in Wilmington, Ohio, Levering served in the U.S. Army during World War II and in the Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam eras. He taught high school English and American literature until retiring from his second career in 2003. He died Jan. 22, 2004 from a brain tumor.

“I spent a lot of time with him when I was growing up. My wife and kids never got to meet him, so having that 45 minutes of him telling his story is huge,” Ratliff said. “He just loved America. He was intelligent, articulate and just that classic ‘Greatest Generation’ kind of guy. He was a great Granddad, a great role model for me. He definitely instilled those old-time values in me that seem to be missing in parts of our society today.”

Beginning in 2001, librarian Kathy Colvin spearheaded the local effort to collect more than 200 veteran histories.

“The VHP especially wanted to record stories of service people from WWII, estimated to die at a rate of 400 per day. If we did not capture these first-hand accounts while we had the opportunity, their stories would be gone forever, lost to future generations. There is nothing quite like hearing a story from the person who lived it,” she said.

A Mary L. Cook team went to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to conduct interviews of veterans, including Levering’s.

“For me personally, each story gave me a deeper understanding of the word, ‘service.’ From listening to the participants recite their daily routines to their in-the-moment perceptions of the realities of war, it painted a picture for me of what is asked of men and women in these situations. Both the contrasts and similarities of their stories are remarkable,” said Colvin, the mother of an Army major.

Little did she know the impact those interviews would have 15 years later.

“It brought tears to our eyes when Mr. Levering’s grandson contacted us after accidentally finding his grandfather’s interview online and hearing him express how much it meant to him,” Colvin said. “The Mary L. Cook Public Library is proud and humbled to have taken part in this endeavor.”

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Turning a page on books about dogs
Turning a page on books about dogs

When my husband, Ed, and I adopted Teddy in 2014, we received numerous “dog” books from family and friends. RELATED » Karin Spicer on letting a dog sleep in owners’ bed The books ranged from understanding behavior (American College of Veterinary Behaviorists “Decoding Your Dog”) to dog games and tricks (Sophie Collins&rsquo...
BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing
BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing

Some of the biggest artists in rap, hip hop, pop, R&B, movies and TV will be at the BET Awards on Sunday. Remy Ma, DJ Khaled, New Edition and more  are scheduled to be at the show at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  Here’s what you need to know before the show: What time: 8 p.m. ET What channel: BET, with live streams on BET.com...
Butler County sheriff warns of bond scam
Butler County sheriff warns of bond scam

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones is warning the public that a scam artist is trying to trick people into paying a bond that they do not owe. Jones announced that a victim of a recent scam arrived at the sheriff’s office looking for Sgt. Owens and stated he had paid his fines and was there to meet him. “He indicated that he had received...
Housing concept hits a wall
Housing concept hits a wall

Local developer Steve Bruns’ proposal to offer what he described as “unique” European-style Tudor homes in a Tipp City subdivision was stalled by existing homeowners. RELATED » Scoreboard ordinance proposed More than 50 of the current residents of the Rosewood Creek subdivision located near Peters Road at the city’s western...
Advocates want more from Hamilton solar power plan
Advocates want more from Hamilton solar power plan

Hamilton, which operates its own utilities, is moving toward buying electricity from residents who generate solar power on their properties, and this week held a public-input meeting to see what people think about the rules the city may implement. Those who attended the meeting said they were glad Hamilton will be buying the solar power, but expressed...
More Stories