In forlorn and forgotten battlefields in Europe, Africa, and in the Pacific, personal belongings of World War II soldiers who fought for their country continue to be recovered with awe and excitement by both amateur and professional archaeologists. Weapons, uniforms, kits, and even deeply personal items like Bibles and correspondences are also bought and sold online, at fairs, and in antique shops around the world. Occasionally, someone finds a name or other identifying information on an object and begins to wonder: Who wore this jacket? Who wrote this letter? Who drank from this canteen?
Meanwhile, generations of families that lost a loved one in the war yearn to know more about their cherished young man or woman and to make sense of their sacrifices. Even veterans who returned home seldom spoke of their experiences, dying without passing on their legacies. Families are left bereft. What happened to him or her during the war? How did he or she live and die? Appreciating the pain, loss, and questions are not limited to the families of veterans. Would anyone appreciate their pain and loss outside the family? Will memories fade and history be forgotten?
In Europe, Dutch, Belgian, and French citizens—eternally grateful for the immense sacrifice Americans made to liberate them from the yoke of occupied tyranny—continue to adopt graves in the American military cemeteries in their regions. They often want to know more about the man or woman buried that they agreed to honor: What footsteps did he or she take in order to save them?
LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by researcher Myra Miller to discover the identities of the brave men and women who offered their youth and even sometimes their lives to battle the forces of evil and preserved liberty around the planet 75 years ago. LEGACY researches and identifies the heroes who owned the items, and these stories reunite their sacred relics with the veteran or family and educate the family, local school children, and the public about their sacrifices. Legacy assists grave adopters around the world in preserving 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: We show where he or she fought and died. If the hero is buried abroad, it is filmed 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.
Both costly and time-consuming, the work of LEGACY requires assistance to carry out its mission. Once LEGACY has accepted the challenge of finding an item’s owner, we spend between 20 to 100 hours researching units, locations, personnel, and lost records and locating family members. Next, the veteran or the family is notified of the recovery of the sacred relic, and we organize its personal return. We arrange a full patriotic honoring service in the family’s hometown, regardless of the location. During the emotional and moving ceremony, two LEGACY staff members present the veteran’s personal story and item to the family, local school children, and the media to ensure that the veteran’s sacrifice is acknowledged and becomes part of the community’s historical record.
Additional third party funding can enable the family to 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 a recovered item meaningful and even life-changing at a surprisingly deep, personal level. Seeing their loved one publicly honored and talked about within the community of young and old often opens a floodgate of overwhelming emotions: Grief. Gratitude. Pride.
With your financial assistance, the LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND program can provide life-changing experiences for 10 to 12 American families and communities annually.
We would appreciate the opportunity to speak to you more about our work and how you can help. Please contact us 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 Ph.D., Executive Director
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