Monessen American Legion Post 28 and Monessen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1190 are each donating $250 for a total of $500 to the Greater Monessen Museum and Historical Society.
It is important to understand why we should be preserving materials that contribute to telling a veteran’s story, and why we seek to make them available
It is easy to understand that many of these items have historical significance or personal value to the veterans themselves, to their families and to the City of Monessen; when housed in a repository like a museum or historical society, these resources can provide so much more than a simple family history.
Perhaps the most important reason for preservation is that this material aids the efforts of researchers and educators to relate the efforts of those from Monessen who served to the students and young people of today. To be able to hear a veteran’s voice, read their words and view one-of-a-kind images, provides a first-person, grassroots-level account of what military life, particularly during a time of war, is all about through the Veterans History Program.
Scholars can learn about the big picture from military historians and leaders, but they also want to try to understand what it was like to be there—the sounds, the smells and the feelings. The letters from a POW, a diary written in the desert or a jungle, a video of day-to-day life, or a memoir that reflects on the meaning of it all, provide words and images that inform and instruct.
This information provides a human face to scholarly works and to classroom instruction. Additionally, it inspires future generations with a reminder of what veterans have done through their service and sacrifice.
Of more personal importance, these collections of memories are of value to the families and friends of veterans who no longer live in Monessen, but visit here occasionally Some military members or veterans freely discuss their experiences and proudly display items related to their service.
Often for reasons from humility to discomfort with their past, veterans are reticent to talk about or review their service. In the latter case, families are unknowing and may never get the full story. The preservation of military materials can ‘open the door’ for discussion of what they did, where they were and how they feel about it. It can also assure that these important materials fill an empty chapter in the overall family legacy that can be forever reviewed.