Sheridan resident Val Burgess reads through letters written during World War II to families of POWs and to Sheridan resident Cora Clark Reed.Sheridan resident Val Burgess reads through letters written during World War II to families of POWs and to Sheridan resident Cora Clark Reed.

Nonprofit awarded $10,000 grant for ‘Cora’s Legacy’

SHERIDAN — A local nonprofit dedicated to preserving the stories of World War II veterans and prisoners of war has received a $10,000 grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation.

The nonprofit, Wars Voices, is operated by Val and Jerry Burgess of Sheridan. It received the grant through the McMurry Library Donor Advised Endowment Fund for the project “Cora’s Legacy.”

During WWII Cora and George Reed, of Sheridan, listened via short-wave radio as Tokyo Rose, Japanese broadcasters and American prisoners of war recited their names, rank, next of kin address and a brief message to their families. Cora Reed transcribed these messages via her own shorthand and sent letters to their next of kin. Hundreds of letters were returned to her from their loved ones. At one point, the War Department told Reed she was to stop the letter writing. She returned a curt retort to their letter.
The letters have national significance as they provide a glance into the history of the POWs, their lives and the war in the Pacific. The letters from generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels and major’s families make up the largest number of letters sent to Cora Reed. Some are from families of men from the USS Pope and USS Perch.

The records kept for each POW will be cataloged, digitized and, eventually, a researchable listing will be placed on the Wars Voices and the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library website.
At a later date, an archive of these letters will be held in the Wyoming Room at the library.

Wars Voices staff will further the research of these men through Ancestry.com, Fold 3 and contact with their families, to aid in the development of the online archive of these primary resources.
Val Burgess has been involved in recording and cataloging the stories of WWII veterans since 1994. For more information, contact Burgess at vburgess@burgessdesigngroup.com or 674-4080.

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