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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

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The Pueblo Chieftain Online

November 13, 1999

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Chieftain photo by Chris McLean

A Virtual Home Of Heroes

By Peter Strescino
The Pueblo Chieftain

The virtual Hall Of Heroes is also a place where history lives

Doug Sterner, Pueblo's driving force behind honoring veterans, has constructed a Web site that consists of 8,000 screens of veteran information and American history for school kids.

Sterner says the site is dedicated to dispensing facts, and he has no "politics, causes or agendas."  It's not just a tribute to American history but includes some events that helped shape the country's laws.

Sterner has broken the site into several divisions.

There's a section on documents that includes the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation, among other documents.

Sterner has also included, and is continuing to build, a repository of speeches by Americans.  He already features, for example, Benjamin Franklin's speech to delegates of the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, where he asks the delegates to look to Providence for guidance in formulating the Constitution.  Sterner is compiling inaugural speeches by U.S. Presidents.

He says he gets many of his documents from the Library of Congress Web site, but also manually types in some of the information.

"I've worked 500 days on this to produce 8,000 pages, about 16 a day, " said Sterner, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Sterner said he hopes the efforts will one day lead from the virtual to reality.  He wants to build a museum in Pueblo that can be used by schoolchildren to provide a structured curriculum in American history.  Now, however, he has laid out the proposed museum in floors on his site, which is  Off that site, the user can visit "floors" of the proposed Hall of Heroes, with each featuring many different "rooms".

"It's so realistic that people have e-mailed me to make reservations to stop in next summer when they are on vacation," he said.

What's great in Sterner's site is the information it provides.  It's a one-stop shopping in American history and civic information, in full color, usually red, white and blue.  There's a separate page on each state, giving its history, government, geography and landmarks.

Most of the state information was produced by school kids about their states, Sterner said.  He posted a message on Internet bulletin boards, and those school children put together their pages.

"I took it on a first-come, first-served basis," he said.  "No contests, and the kids have done a nice job."

So far, there are 20 student-produced state documents on Hall of Heroes.  Ironically, Sterner produced the Colorado pages.   An information seeker can click on the state on a U.S. map and the state will appear with information links to home pages for the governor, congress people or senators.

There's a bio page on each president.  Dates of birth and death, pictures of their vice presidents and first ladies, personal information, military service, party, offices held before he was president, nickname, last word and a quote by or about the man.

Two years ago, sterner was a self-described computer illiterate.

"I rented a computer for a month to see if there was anything to them," he said Friday.  "I brought it back thinking it was a way to play solitaire without cards."

But in January 1998, his wife Pam signed him up for a computer class at Pueblo Community College.  "I literally went back to school with my heels dragging," he said.

He found a niche.

"That's a tremendous program," said Sterner of PCC's computer information systems course.  "I've been a full-time student there ever since I started in January 1998."

He said he went from "zero to designing Web sites and data bases because of that course."  His goal on the Hall of Heroes site is to expand it from 8,000 to 40,000 pages of history, he said.

"A lot of schools use my site, and there are many pages a teacher can print out to use for class,"  Sterner said.   "One teacher wrote me to tell me it was great because it's all in one place."



Publish Date Saturday, November 13, 1999
1996-2000 The pueblo Chieftain Online



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