The Smithsonian's Stories of 2020 web page.

The Smithsonian's Stories of 2020 web page. (Smihsonian)

WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian Institution is collecting stories from 2020, and historians want service members and their families to share theirs.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is urging Americans to share photos, videos and written stories of 2020 – a historic year that the institution assumes will be of interest to future historians and researchers. The Smithsonian has asked specifically for stories from health care workers, educators, refugees, agricultural workers and the military community.

Shannon Perich, curator of the photographic history collection at the museum, said they want stories from service members and their families because they likely have had unique experiences.

“We know military families and military members who live both here in the U.S. and around the world will have had a range of experiences that include those like everyone else around isolation, education and so forth,” Perich said. “But there is probably also some specific about what it means to be a military member or family member during this time. What does it feel like to be an American overseas during this time? What has been the same, what has been different? Only they can tell us.”

The Smithsonian titled the project “Stories of 2020” and is describing it as a digital time capsule for future generations.

To participate, volunteers are asked to visit the museum’s website and answer the question, “How did your life change during these times?” They’re asked to share their experiences with the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice, politics or other events and life changes in 2020. Some of the stories will be shared publicly on the museum’s website.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” Perich said.

More information can be found at Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.

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