At 16, most teens are not spending their free time with folks as much as three- quarters of a century older than they are but that is just what the young man from Pickerington, Ohio is doing. Kyle Miller has a deep love of military history and wants to preserve a piece of it for future generations and to earn his Eagle Scout cadge.
Kyle’s own great-grandfather fought in one of the major offensives of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45. Kyle was just 4 when the man died so he missed out on getting to know him personally and hearing the stories he might have told.
At 12, Kyle, a member of the Boy Scouts, joined a group for veterans of World War II. He says that in befriending these people, he has learned that they are not so different than he is. He’s also had the opportunity to experience a little of what he might have missed out on with his own great-grandfather.
Listening to what they had to say about their experiences, Kyle decided to become their archivist. He and his father, who doubles as his scout leader, created a website where their stories could be shared. Realizing just what true heroes these people were, he wanted a way to preserve their experiences for the world to share before they have all died away.
His project, called Voiced form the Front, involves collecting the stories of 1000 veterans. The stories attest to the sacrifices made by the men and their families for the good of the country.
Completing the project will help Kyle earn the Eagle Scout rank within the Boy Scouts organization. To do so, his project must demonstrate leadership abilities and at the same time, provide a service to the community. Kyle will also earn academic credit for his efforts from his teacher who happens to be his mother. She homeschools Kyle and his siblings.
Kyle knows there are plenty of books out there containing similar stories but he sees his project as something different. He hopes with his interviews to capture not only the stories of the battles and frontline bravery but those of the people left behind at home. He wants to paint a broad picture that encompasses the wives and people at home all the way to the support units and combat units. This will give his overall project a more complete perspective of this period in time.
Volunteers are helping Kyle and he hopes to complete the project by the fall of 2013. What’s next for Kyle? A book chronicling the experiences of Veterans involved in the Battle of the Bilge.