Attention Newsroom Media Advisory
/ STATE OF WISCONSIN, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
30 West Mifflin Street, P.O. Box 7843, Madison, WI 53707-7843
PHONE: (608) 266-1311 1-800-947-8387 (WIS VETS)
Jim Doyle, Governor
John A. Scocos, Secretary / E-MAIL:
FAX: (608) 264-7616
Attention Newsroom—Media Advisory
May 25, 2005Contact: Andrew Schuster 608-267-1797
For Immediate Release or Kathleen Scholl 608-267-3582
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Receives Materials from Afghanistan and Iraq
(MADISON)—As Memorial Day approaches this year, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum (WVM) in Madison is actively seeking to preserve the stories and experiences of our nation’s newest veterans. The WVM is a state-mandated institution that began collecting Civil War veteran materials in 1901 and is dedicated to acknowledging, commemorating, and affirming all of our nation’s subsequent veterans.
Before leaving for duty in Afghanistan in 2003, Frank Kaiser of the Wisconsin Air National Guard visited the WVM to see if he could bring anything in particular back for their collections. The delighted staff explained to him that they wanted items that would document his personal experiences for future generations. Museum staff asked Kaiser to save correspondence, photographs, and unique objects that he encountered during his service.
Upon returning safely to Wisconsin in 2004, Kaiser donated letters, e-mails, photographs, a deck of “Iraqi Most Wanted” cards, two camouflage coats (one U.S. and one Romanian), currency and a piece of a MiG-21 to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. “We are trying to stay out in front with the current conflicts, to get the objects used in Afghanistan and Iraq by Wisconsin veterans while they still have meaning and before they go into the closets, basements, or trash,” said Bill Brewster, Curator of Collections.
Jeff Carnes served as an Arabic translator with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. He donated materials relating to his service in the Middle East, as well as during the peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, to the WVM in 2004. One of the more interesting items donated by Carnes is an Iraqi poster of Saddam Hussein. For Angela Andres, the WVM’s book and paper conservator, the poster presented a unique challenge.
While physically in good condition, it was coated on both sides with a very fine sand much like talcum powder. Working gradually on one small area of the poster at a time, the dust was removed with brushes and special sponges. “It’s exciting to work on such a unique item,” Andres said. “Its subject matter and conservation needs are so different from the materials I usually work on.”
In addition to his donations, Carnes participated in the WVM Oral History Program. Archivist Russ Horton recorded his description of his military career and perspectives on Iraq, which will be transcribed, cataloged, and preserved for future generations.
Gayle Martinson, the museum’s archives collections manager, encourages Wisconsin service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in the WVM’s oral history program. She explains, “The oral history program provides the narrative stories that both compliment and extend the museum’s archives, library, and object collections. We focus on preserving the personal side of military service through the veteran’s own words, letters, images, and objects. We preserve these materials for the veteran and family members, their descendants, and researchers.”
Martinson said that today’s technology presents some problems when trying to preserve materials. She advises veterans to print off their e-mails because they will become obsolete and unreachable as technology advances. She also said veterans should be sure to maintain any digital photographs they might have and make sure they can continue to access them as newer programs come out.
Even if today’s returning veterans are not yet ready to donate their materials to an archives, WVM staff advises them to keep everything in tact so that they might reconsider in the future. By being forward thinking now, veterans can ensure that their experience will be preserved and remembered for future Memorial Days.
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a free public educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and is located at 30 W. Mifflin St., across the street from the State Capitol. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (year round) and Sundays (April through September) from noon to 4 p.m. The museum’s research center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and by appointment. For more information call 608-267-1799, or go to
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