Thursday, July 21, 2005

Purple Hearts

So whilst we was down in the States United we went into a small shop up a street in a terrible strip of tourist traps. But this store was no trap. In the front the man was selling war memorabilia. Real stuff, like actual old pith helmets. I want a pith helmet. I love history and I was fascinated by all this collection of Things That Were There. Everything from knives from Vietnam to old Roman coins. But that wasn't the coolest bit.
Walking into the back room we found ourselves in a very small museum. Like maybe the size of a small bedroom. There were glass display cases and mounted documents all over the place. The man that owned the shop goes about collecting really special war mementos and puts them out for everyone to see. Most impressive in this lot are the scores of Purple Hearts he has. Beside each one is the name of the person who got it, where they fought, with whom they fought, where they lived, how they died, and where they are buried. In 1984 the US government decided that the Nazis probably weren't after old army records anymore, and made a whole whack of them public. The shop owner went through these, researching who all these fellows were and compiling all this information. It is a truly awe inspiring sight to not only see the medals, but to also know a bit about those who deserved them.
Another very interesting and heartwarming display was a giant frame in which there were a number of letters and clippings.
The first letter sent to a family saying that their son was missing, and could possibly be in a POW camp. The second told of what camp their son was at, and that it may be possible to get a package to him, but not to count on it. The third was a newspaper clipping stating the names of the American GI's freed from that camp. The last was a Western Union telegram, simply stating: "I'm free and doing fine. Will be home soon."
We spent quite a while in there. A truly great experience.



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