Is there a veteran in your life? Are you wondering how to honor them? My grandfather served during World War 1. His pictures, memorabilia, artwork, mess kit, pieces of shrapnel were stored in barns, homes, basements, attics… and some even burned by a fire. Until the year 1999 when we decided to DO something with those memories. Armed with sticky notes, archival scrapbook supplies and 4 tables set up to spread out, my mom, sister and I went to work. Slowly the memories started coming back as my mom looked at pictures of her dad, recalling stories he’d told her.
First we sorted by categories: childhood (San Francisco Earthquake), teen years, first job, War, marriage, children. The War years are particularly interesting because when Grandpa was in his bunker he drew – not cartoon type photos, but life in camp. Life as he knew it then. What a battle looked like; what the tents looked like; their beds…. I kept a few for the scrapbook, the rest stayed in his diary. We scoured his diary for details to put in the album; he kept a meticulous journal which helped a LOT. Sadness filled us when we saw letters and telegrams telling him that his only sister was sick with the Flu. His request to leave to go see her…Then the telegram telling him she had died before he arrived. A loooooong photo that unfolds, showing soldiers, all wearing masks, returning from the war. Fearing the flu…
The job of sorting and putting memorabilia with photos can be tedious. But let me encourage you that it IS WORTH it. We are currently (2012) working on a project of getting my parents story on video and recording. I will post a clip of it when it is more completed, in early 2013.
Letters, artwork, pictures, SOS cards, telegrams were all carefully placed in this archival Scrapbook. Then the work of getting my mom to write, in her handwriting, the stories. 2 weeks later, a 3 inch thick album was completed… and from that time till now, that albums gets taken out a LOT. My kids have poured through it; visitors have perused it – the reactions are always wistful. “I wish I could make something like this”. “I wish I had all the photos and memorabilia saved”. I wish I knew what to do with memories like these…. how to preserve them.
I am grateful to my grandfather, my dad, my uncle and many cousins that have served our County. I am thankful that I have the a scrapbook that takes me back to what they sacrificed for me.
THANK YOU VETERANS!