Showcasing memorabilia in your home

Good morning my pleasant people of Butler County!
We are approaching Memorial Day, when we honor the courageous men and women who fought for our country. As they continue protecting our freedom on various fronts, we are reminded of one of the United States’ greatest victories: World War II.
As you might remember, Tom Brokaw coined the phrase the “Greatest Generation” for our World War II heroes and their supporters on the home front. And as you know, we are losing distinguished heroes from that generation every day. In my own family we recently lost two members of this elite group of survivors: My dad Stanley Robinson in April 2008 and Dr. Glenn Colvin in November 2009.
Showcasing Military Memorabilia
Many of these heroes are sent to their new heavenly homes with military funeral services. During these inspiring farewells, the casket is draped with a U.S. flag that is presented to the family. I am proud to be the custodian of both my father’s and my father-in-law’s flags of honor. I feel privileged to have these in my possession and I display them with gratefulness in my home. They reside on top of a cabinet in my office, tucked into cases made especially for protecting these flags in all their glory. My Dad’s case includes some of his uniform stripes and medals—a daily reminder of what a great young American he was. I love my tribute to the two of them.  
While working on a recent project, I discovered the homeowner had her father’s military flag along with two bronze star medals still in their originals cases. What a wonderful surprise! Although the homeowner had truly forgotten she had them, I believed they must be on display. As a mark of respect to the gentleman I did not know but still appreciated, I created a memorial in the dining room. The homeowner had the perfect place for them: a lovely new barn red cabinet. The military memorabilia gives the gentle piece of furniture a stately appearance.
I chose to display the flag with no protective box—just the beautifully folded flag—and only one of the bronze medals in its original box. (I do caution about allowing dust or sunlight to rest of these flags. I felt in this situation the flag was safe from both. A case would in most cases be my recommendation.) These flags are so dignified and exclusive. Displaying her father’s flag in the dining room, in such a prominent place, makes it such a rich part of her history and honors her father. Dining rooms can become so much more than merely rooms to dine. As in this case, the room became a space of true honor. After all, how many beautiful prayers are said for our abundant blessings in this room. And the homeowner agreed.
Honoring All the Special People
Let me point something out right now: Amazing men and women continue to join the ranks of our country’s protectors. People are actively working for our interests today, and no matter what you think of these activities, you must support the people. I was in high school and college during the Vietnam War, and I remember all the conflicts it caused here at home. We lose some of our astonishing veterans every day, as well as lose some of the active-duty personnel. We must remember that all of these brave Americans gave so much for our country, and honoring each and every one of them is a privilege.
Beyond veterans, we need to honor all of the special people in our lives. We can do this by placing objects of honor in our homes, which has the side benefit of adding wonderful details to any décor. For example, I’ve seen these keepsakes presented in frames with all of the medals, stripes, release papers and perhaps a photo of the serviceperson. These small shrines help us remember the special times and sacrifices of amazing people. The same type of tribute could easily be made for a loved one that was called to heaven far too early. I recently mentioned the tribute of a simple tissue box with four important photos  surrounding the box. Naive and tender are sometimes the nicest display of love for those we have lost. A daily dose of their wonderful face, brings a smile and beautiful feeling into your heart.
Most people I believe choose to display these items in the public areas of their homes to show respect and pride. Having such an honor tucked into a drawer or closet seems morally wrong. Clearly an office is perfect for memorabilia, including military items of honor. Staircases that get a constant stream of passersby allow people to pause and take note. In a dining room or living room, they can serve as the beginning of a beautiful and loving conversation.
For help in displaying and protecting your family’s collectibles, look online or visit stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels. I suggest modest display pieces to keep the focus on the actual artifacts. Depending on the piece, search online or visit a qualified framing shop for ideas on preserving and showcasing your memories.
I hope my column will encourage you to find—and display—any treasures from your own family. I will leave you with the words of Pastor Rick Warren:
“Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing. You are actually serving your country. And it is a worthy and valid vocation.”
Have a wonderful week! And hug and thank a Veteran!