donations for the museum

One thing fun about volunteering at the military museum is I sometimes get to receive memorabilia to add to the collection.

Yesterday, a fellow, Myron W., brought in several items he thought we might like, though he wasn’t too sure. Like a framed copy of the famous photo of a sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square at the end of WWII. A Seabee pennant. An equator crossing certificate dated August 1943. A handbook the US Navy gives to new seamen to help them learn the things sailors need to know to be good sailors, this one a 1940 issue. Three war bond savings books, two for 10 cent stamps, and one for 25 cent stamps.

I wrote down each item on the sheet used to receive items into the collection, and each one gave evidence of the challenges people endured in WWII, both as members of the armed services and as civilians. Myron and I had a long talk about each item and how it would enrich the collection held at the museum.

Sallows Military Museum [The Sallows Military Museum.]

He seemed relieved. His late wife was the collector in his family, he noted. She didn’t throw away anything, especially if it had a history behind it. She loved history, and she cherished each of these items, preserved them in pristine condition for decades. Then she died.

“It’s just clutter to me,” he said, “but it meant so much to my wife. None of our kids is interested in any of it, but I don’t want it around.”

He pointed to his head with both hands, “This is where I keep my wife’s memory. I keep our family history in here! I don’t need things to remember.” He noted “things” just made him sad. He hoped the museum could use the items, a tribute to his wife’s care in preserving them all those years.

I reassured him he’d just donated some of the nicest items of those I’d received from people for the museum, because they’d been so well cared for, but also because they told so many stories about a specific time and people in our country’s history, a time where it wasn’t certain we’d even survive as a free people. Darn right, the museum was glad to accept them! How else, how better to inform young people about the process that saved this country and the world from brutal regimes? How else, how better to honor the memories of the people who fought those battles, survived that time, and helped create the world we enjoy today?

The Sallows Military Museum isn’t a large institution. It gets scant funds from the city to stay open. It isn’t even open every day because of lack of volunteers. Until recently, it only had one paid employee, a part time curator who put her heart into running the museum and making the exhibits meaningful. I rarely have a lot of people show up during my time there on Thursdays as a volunteer, and they rarely stay very long. It’s not fancy. In fact, it is in an old city property – the 1930s swimming pool bath house – that was refurbished and refitted to become the museum. Lots of volunteer help made it happen, many small money donations. No less important, maybe even more important, are people like the man who brought in the donations yesterday. The museum is a community project that empties closets and basements of “useless” stuff taking up space and makes it into meaningful displays that personalize the history of some of the country’s toughest challenges and our community’s role in it.

Myron, of course I was glad to accept your donations for the museum! Thank you! And bless your late wife for her foresight to save the items you donated in her and your family’s name! I don’t get paid to open the museum for three hours on Thursday afternoons, but thanks to people like you, I definitely feel rewarded!

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Ted

Americans with chronic illness know that the first concern of hospitals is less for you than “Do you have insurance?”

Doctors, nurses, food service, maintenace staff: All great in every hospital I’ve been in (five hospitals total).

In nearly every hospital I’ve been in, in every hospitalization, there is a moment when someone from the billing department asks you: “How do you plan to pay for this, do you have insurance?

Usually the question comes while you, bound to a gurney, are gasping for air or bleeding all over the floor.

I don’t exaggerate that much.

I learned fast, though, that you have to be aggressive with the money people. They, more significantly the system that created them and the focus on payment over patient, is what’s broke with the American health care system.

The system is broke.

August 27, 2009, a decades long champion of national health care died.

His public life, his true legacy, is that he stood up for the people least able to stand up for themselves. To people like me, with chronic illness, there is hope that the Obama administration, without him on the President’s side, will be able to create a humane and just health care act that works.

The politics of it are above me. I was touched by his death. I feel the loss.

If you feel the loss, too, please meditate, prayerfully, while listening to the video above.

Soli Deo gloria!

Ted Kennedy, Requiescat In Pace.

  • I love history!

    I am a history buff. I am a life member of the Nebraska State Historical Society. I like to read everything I can about how things were, why people took certain paths in reaction to (always “in reaction to” it seems) events that were as ordinary as a pope authorizing indulgences, for example.

    As a Presbyterian, I recognize sale of indulgences as one of Martin Luther’s issues with the Roman Catholic Church of his time, and understand that “Protestant” comes from one who protests those issues and attempts to reform (“Reformation”- there we are again!) the only church in town. I don’t intend this blog as a platform to proselytize, so I’ll stop there.

    The Norman invasion of England in 1066, where Norman influences on language, for just one aspect of change, reshaped the language you and I speak and write today. Normans wrote the history of the Battle of Hastings, as is the prerogative of the winner of any battle or war.

    Try to read a paragraph written in French. Unless you studied it in school, you may be surprised that many words look oddly familiar. The Battle of Hastings affects our lives over 940 years later! Amazing! The Battle of Hastings is another historical event you can study your whole life, gathering degrees left and right, and still never exhaust the topic! 

    The Battle of Midway in World War II was pivotal. Up to this battle, America didn’t look like it was on the winning side.  Luck- American!- won the battle, even though the it started out disastrously for the United States, with heavy loss of men and fighting capacity. In this video, you hear a curious fact: the Japanese painted the decks of its carriers yellow, and painted the Rising Sun on the deckside of the elevators that took planes below deck, making their carriers perfect targets for American planes coming in to bomb them!

    Those of us who weren’t alive during World War II often don’t realize that Germany had a long-range bomber capable of bombing New York, but Hitler decided against its use. The German atomic bomb efforts are a bit more familiar, but the Nazis had a jet in 1939 that wasn’t produced because Herman Goering, a World War I ace no less, apparently didn’t see the strategic value of the technology until too late in the war.

    Big events and small decisions won a war in which 50 million people lost their lives. Big events and small decisions determined everything from the language we speak to our form of government. 

    History is familiar, it is yesterday’s news cleaned up. Sometimes it presents a particular point of view. Sometimes it presents a point of view you like- or not! Sometimes you don’t recognize it as history because it goes against everything you learned in school. That’s what reading about familiar historical events through the point of view of the other guy can do. The video above tells of an American loss in the War of 1812, through a Canadian history familiar to all Canadians, but totally alien to Americans.

    I like the 20/20 hindsight of historians, who re-evaluate events, try to understand how ordinary and extraordinary people worked through the large and small crises of their lives.

    War has to be worse that even the worst natural disaster because other people- probably just as nice as you under the right circumstances- want to destroy you and your family, your way of life, your home, and anything else that stands between them and you. Compare war with natural disasters. One often displays the worst of human nature. The other often brings out the best of human nature. Yet each changes us in its own way. That’s where history becomes important and interesting. History’s where we learn not only who we are but why we are what we are.

    Whew!