American Legion Department of Minnesota partners with book publisher to preserve stories

By Tim Engstrom
Shown is a similar oral history book PCI did with the American Legion Department of North Carolina.

ST. PAUL — The American Legion Department of Minnesota has partnered with a Texas company to produce an oral history of department veterans as a means to raise funds.

“Veterans of all eras have fascinating stories, and this book will provide a way for documenting their service to the country and to their communities,” said Adjutant Mike Maxa. “When a veteran shares a story, it really is a big deal and it matters.”

PCI is a company out of Dallas that has access to the Legion’s membership database and is a longtime trusted protector of that database. It works with many American Legion departments across the nation. PCI stands for Publishing Concepts Inc. It is a 100-year-old family-owned business.

The 2018 member directory from PCI.

Executive Vice President Rex Petrasko said PCI will mail postcards to members in February asking them to call a dedicated 1-800 number to share their story in the service, in the Legion and in any other life experiences.

“It’s only members who can be in this project,” he said, “but you have to call us to be in it.”

He said when members call the number, the company confirms that the caller, then a recorded interview commences. The average interview is 15 minutes, though some are longer.

“At the conclusion of the interview, we ask them if they would like to reserve a copy of the oral history project publication,” Petrasko said.

After telling a story, there is no obligation to purchase.

The American Legion Department of Minnesota receives a guaranteed royalty of $25,000 from PCI to assist it in its mission of serving veterans.

The books are coffee-table books, hardbound, color, with glossy paper. Contact information for the interviewed veterans is not published.

The Department of Minnesota did a similar partnership with PCI in 2018. Instead of an oral history publication, it was a member directory. There was a 54 percent response rate.

“We are hoping to crush that in this go-round,” Maxa said. “We want to assure our members that PCI and the Department of Minnesota are working together. They are a trusted friend of the Legion and will work with our veterans.”