This past week my children and I took Toms’ WWII military collection to the Endless Mountain War Memorial Museum in Sonestown, PA, not far from where we live. During the years especially after he retired he was always interesting in military history with WWII his field of expertise. He would talk till the cows came home of what he knew about the war in Europe especially the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. While he was deployed in Germany he took the opportunity to visit Utah and Omaha Beach, St Lo, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France and the Ardennes Forest in Belgium where the Battle of the Bulge took place, and where my dad served. He even talked to some of the survivors and learned first hand about the liberation of an oppressed people.
We made a good team, he and I. His expertise rested with the military strategies of battles, the weapons they used and the behind the stories of the soldiers themselves. My expertise rests with the home front and the Army and Navy nurses who were there to take care of the wounded on the beaches where they lay. The second era we enjoyed learning about was the, history of the West, the American Civil War and the Revolutionary War. We have been to living histories, a few re-enactments of Civil War and WWII battles and many lectures and museums. A few people we met over the years were General Lee and his aide, General Stonewall Jackson and General and Mrs Grant. General Picket was in the hotel room across from us – he told us Generals don’t sleep in tents they are allowed the comforts of hotel rooms! ;) We even talked with the pilgrims on the Mayflower and learned of their experience coming to a new land. And through our travels we learned the fascinating history about the American Indian Nations that had lived here on the east coast.
Both of us collected books and artifacts from days gone by so it is fitting that we would donate the WWII military items he had including the two radios Tom and I had purchased to put in the “home-front” display. We have kept a few pieces that have special memories behind them including the very first pieces of history we purchased. I also have many memories of us traveling and searching for new items to add to his collection or of how Tom was like a kid on Christmas morning when new boxes would arrive via Fed Ex with his latest addition.
Now many people traveling through PA can enjoy a part of history from not only Tom’s collection but also the vast collection started by Mr. Craft who owns the Endless Mountain War Memorial Museum. I just found out today that a dear friend whose husband passed away a few years ago donated his WWII uniform and items from the five major European campaigns he served in. The museum doesn’t glorify war, but it honors those who had to serve to stop oppression and evil in the hopes that what they did would ensure a free safe world for the generations yet to be born.
Preserving history was important to Tom. By preserving history it is our hope that future generations would stop repeating the same mistakes and put a stop to all the destruction and hatred that lies in many people’s hearts.
”What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.” General Robert E Lee