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State Honoree

Russell Babb

Utah

Russell Babb, 14, of Highland, Utah, an eighth-grader at Mountain Ridge Junior High School and a member of the Utah County 4-H in Provo, organized a volunteer effort to repair and paint the water-damaged walls of the Veteran's Memorial Hall in American Fork, and then embarked on a project to interview veterans and record their oral histories. When Russell learned that leaking water had damaged interior walls of the veterans hall, he wanted to help. "This bothered me because I knew how hard it would be for the older veterans to repair the building," he said.

After obtaining permission from the building manager, Russell recruited friends, family members, Boy Scouts and 4-Hers to help him repair cracks and paint the walls. As he painted, Russell talked to some of the older veterans. "Their stories were fascinating," he said. "I realized that the stories would be lost forever if someone didn't record them." With help from a Navy veteran, Russell developed a list of questions. He then learned how to use his family's video camera, raised funds to purchase videotapes, scheduled appointments with veterans, and began taping interviews. Russell plans to continue his interviews and send the tapes to the Library of Congress. "I have captured some incredible stories," he said. "Now future generations will have access to them."