In forlorn and forgotten battlefields in Europe, Africa, and in the Pacific, the personal belongings of World War II soldiers who fought for their country are recovered with awe and excitement by amateur and professional archeologists. Weapons, uniforms, kit, and deeply personal items like bibles and correspondence are also bought and sold in online, at fairs, and in antique shops around the world. On occasion, someone finds a name other identifying information, and wonders who wore this jacket, who wrote this letter, who drank from this canteen.
Meanwhile, generations of families who lost a loved one in the war yearn to know more about their cherished young man, to make sense of his sacrifice. Even veterans who returned home seldom spoke of their experiences, dying without passing on the legacy of their experience. Families are left bereft. What happened to him during the war? How did he live and die? Would anyone appreciate their pain and loss outside the family? Will his memory fade and be forgotten?
In Europe, Dutch, Belgian and French citizens eternally grateful for the immense sacrifice made by Americans to liberate them from the yoke of occupied tyranny adopt graves from the American military cemeteries in their regions. They often need to know more about the man buried under the earth who have they agreed to honor and esteem. How did he die to save them?
LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by researcher Myra Miller to discover the identities of the brave men who offered their youth and sometimes their lives to battle the forces of evil and preserve liberty around the planet 75 years ago or more. LEGACY researches and identifies who owned the item and their story, reunites their sacred relics with the veteran himself or his family, educates the family, school children and public about his sacrifice, and assists grave adopters around the world to preserve the deeply personal legacies of American World War II heroes for generations to come. It also offers the veteran, families, and adopters the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the veteran: where he fought, where he died, and where he’s buried, if it is abroad, and films it for the public and future generations so that each hero’s sacrifice will never be forgotten. Grave adopters must show proof/certificate of their adopted grave to be considered for LEGACY file work.
Costly and time-consuming work of LEGACY requires assistance to carry out its mission. Once LEGACY has accepted the challenge of finding an item’s owner, staff spend 20-100 hours researching units, locations, personnel and loss records, and family members. Next, we contact the veteran or his family to notify them of the recovery of the sacred relic, and organize its personal return. We arrange a full patriotic honoring service in the family’s hometown, no matter where it is. At the emotional and moving ceremony, two LEGACY staff present a package of research – the veteran’s personal story –to the family along with the item in the presence of school children and the media to ensure that the veteran’s sacrifice is acknowledged and becomes part of the community’s historical record.
With additional funding, the family can follow in the footsteps of their hero, and have a short film made which can be shared with local schools, libraries, and descendants for hundreds of years to come.
Previous recipients have found the experience of receiving the recovered items meaningful and life-changing at a surprisingly deep personal level. Seeing their loved one honored publicly, and having community members young and old from the audience speak to them about their family member often opens a floodgate of overwhelming emotions: Grief. Gratitude. Pride.
With your assistance, LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND can provide this life-changing experience for 10-12 American families and communities a year.
We deeply appreciate the opportunity to speak to you more about our work. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how together we can preserve the deeply personal legacies of American heroes for generations to come.
With best regards,
Myra Miller PhD, Executive Director
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