Fairfield Community Center to host memoir writing program

FAIRFIELD – Fairfield resident John Miller wants to encourage members of the community to write their life story so that future generations can learn from it.

Miller is spearheading a few local initiatives that he hopes will inspire more people to leave behind a written record of the ups and downs of their lives. One of these programs is specifically for veterans to record their experiences in the military, and another is for the general public.

Those interested in embarking on their own memoir are invited to attend an introductory session that Miller is hosting on the subject on Thursday, August 18 at the Fairfield Community Center. The event is free and open to the public. Miller said he hopes the group can meet about twice a month, during which he’ll guide attendees to answer a few questions from the Iowa Department of Aging, which has a list of 85 questions to help. people to write a memoir.

“We’ll be answering questions like, ‘Name something you’ve received recognition for in your life?'” Miller said. “I sell this to seniors, but it’s not exclusively for them. As an older person, I think a lot of people would like to leave a little paper trail of their life, their highlights, their accomplishments, their relationships, the places they’ve been, etc.

The project specifically for veterans is one that Miller did in conjunction with the Fairfield Veterans of Foreign Wars. He distributed a list of questions to VFW members to answer those related to their military service and put the answers in a three-ring binder which can be viewed at the VFW. Miller said that binder is under construction as more veterans send in their responses.

“This project is going pretty well,” Miller said. “Fortunately, our veterans are willing to share their stories. I’m putting my own story in it, and while others complete theirs, we’ll put this binder together.

Miller said he would like to make this workbook available to high school students who might do a research project on the military.

“They would have a great resource on locals who served, on a record of what they did and how they served,” he said. “It could be very special.”

Miller said that with the blessing of the VFW, he would like to make a copy of the binder and display it at the Fairfield Public Library as well.

His own memoirs

Miller grew up in Windom, Minnesota, the son of Calvin and Marjorie Miller. He said his parents didn’t leave many written records of their lives typical of people of their generation. They left several photo albums, but unfortunately many important events in their lives have been lost to time. He didn’t want his own life story to meet the same fate, so about 10 years ago he started writing his memoirs.

Miller said the impetus for this project was sparked when he was interviewed by a friend for the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress program aimed at getting veterans to share their military stories. . Miller is a former Air Force officer who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

In 2012, Miller took a course at Maharishi International University with Professor Nynke Passi. As part of the course, Miller composed a 30-page dissertation.

“It was an evolution of my spiritual and religious stepping stones in life,” he said. “Once the course was over, I started to think more about the fact that my parents hadn’t left much behind me, so I decided to extend [my memoir]. I ended up with this 101-page document with photos.

Miller’s memoir contains photos of his youth and his siblings. He expanded the themes to include places he had visited, such as trips to the Southwest of the United States, his participation in an honor flight in Washington, D.C., and family trips, such as on the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, Iowa.

“I sent this to about four dozen friends and colleagues, and about a quarter of them responded with really touching remarks,” Miller said. “It just made me really happy that I bothered to do it. I thought, ‘Boy, this would be a rich experience for other people too.’ Everyone has quirky experiences to share, tragically the vast majority of them die when the person dies and we never get to know them.

John Miller reads in his 101-page memoir that he wrote to record the highlights of his life so far. Miller encourages others to write stories of their lives and will host a program on this topic at 1 p.m. on Thursday, August 18 at the Fairfield Community Center. It is free and open to the public. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at [email protected]

John Miller holds up a copy of the Veterans History Project. Miller was inspired to start writing his own memoirs when he participated in this project in 2012, and encourages other veterans to submit stories from their military service so they can be exhibited at the VFW in Fairfield. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

This is the cover of John Miller’s memoir “As I Knew Him: Steppingstones in One Life Journey”. (Image courtesy of John Miller)

Jill E. Washington