Harrison Smith and Nikki Hearn are two of our undergraduate students working with the Veterans Legacy Program at UCF. Last Spring they worked on biographies of World War I veterans Clyde Atwood Emerson and Edward D. DeSaussure in Dr. Lyons’ History and Historians course, which focused on World War I veterans from Florida who died and were buried in France. The research they conducted and the current centennial of World War I prompted Harrison and Nikki to join our Veterans Legacy team this summer where they are now researching more veterans, helping our tech team, and learning new skills such as metadata entry and website development.
Harrison and Nikki also hosted a station on our Veterans Legacy Day of Learning at the St. Augustine National Cemetery. Here they detailed the lives, service, and legacy of the individuals they researched and shared images related to each veteran’s military service and life story. They also told students of their experiences as VLP researchers. Harrison said he “didn’t realize just how much research and time goes into uncovering the smallest details.” Nikki similarly found out “just how much work is involved in thoroughly researching any aspect of history, especially finding the minute details of one individual’s life and impact.”
The UCF Veterans Legacy Program has given Harrison and Nikki valuable experience as historians and an opportunity to learn new skills that will prepare them well for either graduate study or careers beyond the academy.