(first in a series)If you find some of grandpa’s letters from World War II in the attic, don’t pitch them. The curator of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston says they could be valuable to historians. Museum curator Michael Vogt says just a few days ago, about 150 letters that a World War II soldier from Clarion, Iowa, wrote to his sweetheart back in Iowa were donated to the museum. “They’re interesting because he talks about the men in his unit and he talks about the conditions that they served under,” Vogt says. He says soldiers’ letters — from the Civil War to today — are valuable to historians. Historians read the letters looking for all sorts of background information, from the soldier’s thoughts about the food to how they felt about their comrades. The military museum’s library is open to all comers. There are up to 10-thousand books, plus the diaries and letters of Iowa soldiers. The Iowa National Guard’s records, as well as military service records for Iowans who served in conflicts dating back to the Civil War are there, too, and Vogt says the documents can even help people tracking the family tree. There are 600 panoramic photos picturing units with Iowa soldiers. The musuem is also collecting on video the first-person accounts of Iowa veterans. “We’re very interested in collecting oral histories,” Vogt says. If you’d like more information, or have something to donate to the museum, call 515-252-4531.
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