Most of us know or have met at least one veteran who has touched our life in some way. Sacrificing their lives to protect ours is something that should be honored more than just one day a year, however Veteran’s Day is a good day to start!
Over the past decade I have had the honor of working with veterans of all eras, from WWII to those just home from the Middle East. There is a common theme that abounds with each of these veterans, and that is, they all have boxes and boxes of memorabilia from their time in the military.
Often, when veterans return home all they want is to try to live a “normal” life again. So they put their memories in a box and hide them on the top shelf in a closet or bury them in the depths of a garage. Having those mementos shoved away in a box does not recognize or honor their time in service.
These memories define our Veterans’ lives and ought to be preserved and displayed so their family and friends can understand their journey and valor.
While sometimes these mementos can bring up painful memories, it is important to remember and honor that time in service.
As an organizer it has been my job to help veterans rediscover this part of their lives and honor it by helping them properly store these precious pieces of American history.
Below are some of methods and solutions I have used to store and display various military memorabilia:
- SQUADRON/SHIP/UNIT PATCHES
Use a nice piece of black fabric. Sew on all of your patches in an organized fashion. Frame the fabric as a display piece, or roll up to be stored for future display.
- COLLAR DEVICES (rank)
A small tackle box with dividers keeps all the collar devices separated by ranks. Using small baggies to separate the ranks is also helpful.
Depending on how many uniforms there are determines how to store or display them. One idea is to display a special jacket in a large shadowbox. Another idea is to have a garment rack or closet dedicated specifically for uniforms. Each uniform should be hung in its own garment bag, containing all pieces of that specific uniform. For simply storing, folding each uniform with al its specific pieces and store in an archival garment box.
- OLD PUBLICATIONS
Some of these old publications can be quite bulky. I recommend setting up a filing system for only these publications. It can be as simple as a plastic file box, clearly labeled and stored back in the garage or in a home office.
- DEPLOYMENT MEMORABILIA
This would be nice to have all together in one special place, either a large shadowbox or a special box for each deployment assignment.
- CLASS PHOTOS
As with children’s’ school photos, these class photos are just as important to keep track of. Using an archival photo album keeps these photos all in one place and keeps them protected. Make sure to label each photo with a date and any other identifying information you can.
- CORRESPONDENCE FROM HOME
Sort postcards, letters, emails by person. Rubberband them into bundles and store them in their own box. It can be as simple as a shoebox. As long as all of the correspondence is together in one box. So that one day you can look back and read all the lovely letters that were written.
Take a minute today to thank a Veteran for their service, and forward them this article while you’re at it!