- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

More than a dozen military veterans from Maryland were honored Thursday in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress as the library added their private stories of war to its massive collection.

The documents, photographs, letters home and video interviews are now included in the library´s Veterans History Project. Since 2000, the library has archived records from almost 60,000 people, project director Robert Patrick said.

“One thing about this group is it´s so representative,” Mr. Patrick said of the 13 veterans of three wars and one civilian honored Thursday.

Among them was John Wesley Morrow, 82, a Navy veteran of World War II. He was given a unique document: an oversized certificate initiating him as a “shellback,” or someone who had crossed the equator. Mr. Morrow recalled that “all kinds of hazing” occurred on his aircraft carrier before he obtained the embellished, cartoonlike paper.

His other mementos include several letters written to his mother, one on Christmas Eve 1943.

“I wish I could send you something, but all I can send is a letter,” Mr. Morrow wrote.

More than 60 years later, Mr. Morrow said he´s thankful for every day he has - there are still a lot of things he´d like to see.

“I´m very delighted to be honored,” the Finksburg resident said.

Another Finksburg resident, Agnes Fairnholt , 84, was cut from the “Rosie the Riveter” mold, working up to 10 hours a day at American Hammered Piston Ring in Baltimore.

Her documents include letters sent overseas to her now-late husband, Joseph Fairnholt, one marked by several bright red lipstick marks. He affectionately called her “Reds,” not after her choice in lip color, but because of her long red curls that fell to her waistline.

Sue Burbank, wife of Vietnam veteran Larry Burbank, praised the library’s effort to preserve the memories of those who experienced World War II - who are now simply known as the greatest generation.

“We´re losing them very quickly,” she said.

The Burbanks have trained guide dogs for the blind since 2001. Some have gone to veterans. At the library Thursday, Mrs. Burbank held the leash of Figo, a golden retriever and guide dog in training.

The couple now lives in Manchester, though Larry hails from Topeka, Kan.

“I´m Kansan by birth, but you know how the [saying] goes, they put you around the country,” the Army retiree joked.

Mr. Burbank remembered returning home from Vietnam.

“We were not welcome back,” he said. “At all.”

With the advent of the “wall era” after the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall, “the attitude has changed,” he said.

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