Iowans may be destroying their family’s military history without even realizing it. Preservationists at the State Historical Society of Iowa say storing flags or uniforms in plastic bags hung in closets is the wrong way to go. Anita Walker, director of Iowa’s Department of Cultural Affairs, says care must be taken to properly preserve those items for future generations to appreciate. Walker says chemicals in plastic bags can damage the fabric of flags and uniforms. Instead, she says to wrap them in acid-free paper and put them in a special storage box and store somewhere safe, like under a bed, not in an attic or basement where moisture could get to them. Prior to storing a uniform, it should be taken to an environmentally-friendly dry cleaner that uses natural chemicals. Walker says veterans or their surviving family members should also take extra precautions to preserve the military medals. Walker says medals should -not- be held together with rubber bands, which can harm them over time. She says they don’t need to be polished but suggests wrapping them in muslin, not wool. Walker suggests another great way to honor the veterans of the family by enabling their stories to live on for years with the uniforms and other military memorabilia. When putting away the boxes, consider adding pictures of the veteran too, along with their stories, either in printed form or in the form of an audio or video-taped interview.
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