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What to do with personal military uniform items.
Old 08-29-2015, 03:00 PM   #1
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What to do with personal military uniform items.

Going through my mother's things at home I unexpectedly found some of my father's things, A surprise as I thought we had gone through all his things when he passed away 15 years ago. They are mostly mementos, but there are some things related to his military service, and I don't know what to do with them. Gold color uniform buttons, his cap, ribbons, epaulettes, and a few other things. What do people usually do with these when they are no longer needed?
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Old 08-29-2015, 03:03 PM   #2
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If you want to keep and display them, a lot of people will build a shadow box display when they retire. If you don't want them, you could take them to a local museum or VFW and see if they want them.


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Old 08-29-2015, 03:07 PM   #3
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Give them to your kids and let them worry about what to do with them.
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Old 08-29-2015, 03:37 PM   #4
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Give them to your kids and let them worry about what to do with them.
DW agrees wholeheartedly. Believe me, I'm tempted.
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Old 08-29-2015, 04:31 PM   #5
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When I was a kid, my dad gave me some of his stuff and I loved it. Then I went on active duty myself, and now I wear some of it!

Depending on what it is, most bases have thrift shops that you could drop it off at for someone else to buy/use too.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:19 PM   #6
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The things you mentioned have no real value to others, I'm afraid.

But if you're of a sentimental frame of mind, consider keeping them. I have my father's insignia and medals from WW II (his Purple Heart has meaning, since his 1943 wounding in Italy put an end to his military career). I also have my mother's cap and insignia (she was a WAC at that time).

I took many of those items, including both of their dogtags, and made a little shadow box for display. Nothing of any import, but I smile when I look at it, remembering them.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:42 PM   #7
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If you are not sentimental about them, then you could sell them on ebay ?
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:53 PM   #8
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My father, being super organized, put all his framed WW2 medals , DFC, a patent , his retirement cert and affixed them all to a large scrap of 1980s faux paneling that he used to finish the Florida room. My mom just died, leaving me the house to sell. I will transfer that scrap as is into our house as a monument to him and the house he piddled with.
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:09 PM   #9
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Re: military items... not much left... twin bars, DD-214 and a copy of FM22-5...

But mementoes? about 80 swimming gold medals, (but not really gold). They'll disappear into the rest of the trash, when I depart, along with the hundreds of pre-1940's photos that go back to the 1870's. No one has time for this anymore.
"Creeps in this petty pace..."

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Old 08-30-2015, 09:07 AM   #10
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along with the hundreds of pre-1940's photos that go back to the 1870's. No one has time for this anymore.
I would at least run the photos through a scanner before you trash them so you have a digital copy that can be passed on, without taking up any space in the real world.
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Old 08-30-2015, 02:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Going through my mother's things at home I unexpectedly found some of my father's things, A surprise as I thought we had gone through all his things when he passed away 15 years ago. They are mostly mementos, but there are some things related to his military service, and I don't know what to do with them. Gold color uniform buttons, his cap, ribbons, epaulettes, and a few other things. What do people usually do with these when they are no longer needed?
1. Contact the Smithsonian. Seriously. I donated one of my midshipman uniforms to them many years ago, and they have a huge warehouse archive of military uniforms as they've changed over the years.

2. Contact a local military museum, especially one specializing in your father's years of service (WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, or other). It's not just the big cities-- each military base has a small museum, and many smaller towns have archives collected by local historians. If your father was a submariner then a local WWII submarine museum may be interested in his memorabilia.

3. Disney or other large movie studios. Again, seriously. When they invaded Oahu's Ford Island at the turn of the century to film the movie "Pearl Harbor", they unloaded container after container of actual WWII uniforms and other authentic gear. (Our local museums were going nuts with envy.) An entire floor of one of our training buildings looked like a clothing thrift store. Some of it was worn by extras while the more rare/valuable items were just salted about the sets for authenticity.

If one of those mementos is a Form DD-214 then it's a great source document for your family genealogist. I've considered mounting our family's DD-214s in a large frame but my spouse is not enthused about her contribution...

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... along with the hundreds of pre-1940's photos that go back to the 1870's. No one has time for this anymore.
"Creeps in this petty pace..."
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I would at least run the photos through a scanner before you trash them so you have a digital copy that can be passed on, without taking up any space in the real world.
We just ran over 600 family photos through a Canon CanoScan LiDE 210. It costs less than $75 and it has edge-recognition software. It scans multiple images in one pass and then breaks them into individual files. This means you can scan 4-6 photos per minute when you get the workflow going.

We spent more hours annotating the images and adding other genealogy files. It all fits on a flash drive and our daughter is hugely grateful that she doesn't have to do this for her ancestors.
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:37 PM   #12
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I have my mom's uniforms from WWII. They have some damage, but not too much. She was in the first group of 125 women accepted into the WAVES as officer candidates. Her seersucker uniform is one of very few issued. I have her daily letters home about her experience. I have no idea what to do with them, as far as the best place to donate. I've copied the letters for all the children and grandchildren. I wish there was a women's military museum, but I haven't found one.


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Old 08-30-2015, 09:31 PM   #13
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We just ran over 600 family photos through a Canon CanoScan LiDE 210. It costs less than $75 and it has edge-recognition software. It scans multiple images in one pass and then breaks them into individual files. This means you can scan 4-6 photos per minute when you get the workflow going.

We spent more hours annotating the images and adding other genealogy files. It all fits on a flash drive and our daughter is hugely grateful that she doesn't have to do this for her ancestors.
Thanks... will look at that. Two years ago,I spent about 10 hours scanning, sizing, naming and saving a few hundred or so pics. Saved them on a hard drive that crashed. Swore never again..
The other problem is that the oldest pictures are on photo paper that has curled, and is now hard. Many of the pictures cracked. Had some suggestions here on ER to uncurl, but nothing really worked.

On the general subject of saving historical stuff of any kind... seems like many in the younger generation don't have the same sense of history that some of us oldsters learned, back in the days of books and libraries... Understandable, when the entire world is available on a smart phone.
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Old 08-31-2015, 07:30 AM   #14
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I wish there was a women's military museum, but I haven't found one.
Here are a couple:

U.S. Army Women's Museum - Fort Lee, Virginia

The National WWII Museum | New Orleans: Collections: Focus On: Women at War
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:44 AM   #15
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Keeping paperwork for stuff, but getting rid of clothes and other items at garage sales or donations once DW ERs soon I hope.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:45 AM   #16
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If anyone has items from the First Infantry Division, the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Illinois might be interested (this is an amazing place, btw):

First Division Museum at Cantigny
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Old 09-03-2015, 02:08 PM   #17
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1. Contact the Smithsonian. Seriously. I donated one of my midshipman uniforms to them many years ago, and they have a huge warehouse archive of military uniforms as they've changed over the years.

2. Contact a local military museum, especially one specializing in your father's years of service (WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, or other). It's not just the big cities-- each military base has a small museum, and many smaller towns have archives collected by local historians. If your father was a submariner then a local WWII submarine museum may be interested in his memorabilia.

3. Disney or other large movie studios. Again, seriously. When they invaded Oahu's Ford Island at the turn of the century to film the movie "Pearl Harbor", they unloaded container after container of actual WWII uniforms and other authentic gear. (Our local museums were going nuts with envy.) An entire floor of one of our training buildings looked like a clothing thrift store. Some of it was worn by extras while the more rare/valuable items were just salted about the sets for authenticity.

If one of those mementos is a Form DD-214 then it's a great source document for your family genealogist. I've considered mounting our family's DD-214s in a large frame but my spouse is not enthused about her contribution...
Thanks for these suggestions. I've found more things, including a few my grandfather brought back from WW1. I'm going to set aside some memories to hand down to my children, then make a list, take some photos, and contact the local museum over at Great Lakes to see if they are interested.
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Old 09-09-2015, 12:49 AM   #18
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Thanks! I will check those out.


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