Introduction

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In the summer of 2012, I was lucky enough to receive a call from the Department of [redacted]. To be honest, I thought someone in my writing group was pulling a prank on me. Ever since my mom first mentioned the department to me as a little boy, I have been trying to verify its existence. My mom first read about it in a magazine (I can’t remember which). The writer said the department was housed in a bunker far beneath the Library of [redacted].

To get down there, one would need Level 9 clearance, and a fondness for long elevator rides. Apparently, Level 9 clearance is only given to current and past U.S. Presidents, Nobel Prize Winners, and a team of military librarians who work on-site.  The department was founded during the Cold War to preserve the U.S.’s most cherished objects in case we all went “KABOOM!”

This was all just speculation, until one of the librarians finally got back to me. You’d think a couple of strict military types would be a little faster responding to their mail. Not only that, but they called me at 7 A.M. on a Sunday morning (Great timing, right?). I can’t complain too much, though. They did offer me the opportunity of a lifetime:

“We’d like you to take an all expense paid road trip across the country,” the librarian told me, “You’re goal will be to record the greatest stories you can find.”

I was thrilled to be considered, but I had to know, “Why me?”

“Because,” the librarian said, “Nobody knows who you are, but you don’t give up. We were also impressed with your letters. They were polite with their questions, and funny with their hypotheses. You will have no trouble interviewing people of all ages, from the old man whose voice will soon be lost, to the young child whose imagination has just begun. If you listen carefully to their stories, you will learn what makes America so great. Bring those stories back to us, and they will live forever.”

This had truly been a dream come true for me. I hope you enjoy the tales.

Sincerely,

 Alex Schattner

 P.S. The blacked-out information has been redacted for security purposes. I know…I’m not happy about it either. Sorry.

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