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The Center for American War Letters --accepting donations


ocsfollowme
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ocsfollowme

In August 2021 I came over to run the Veterans Resource Center at Chapman University (Orange, CA). We have a really neat center on campus that collects war letters for preservation.

 

They are particularly looking for letters since 2000. Over Christmas, I am going to be bringing back about 50 envelopes that I completely covered in drawings that I sent my parents from Afghanistan, and donate my note in the shirt pocket that I carried in the event that I was killed.

 

If you have neat US war letters from the 1700s to current, please take a look at the below website, and consider donating them. Let them know that Steve Leader sent you!

 

https://www.chapman.edu/research/institutes-and-centers/cawl/index.aspx

 

 

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They're going to rescind that request real quick when they get a pile of letters talking about ol' Wagner

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Interesting, But I've paid money for the hundreds of letters I've collected. Scans, perhaps. My originals? No, sorry.

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13 hours ago, ocsfollowme said:

...and donate my note in the shirt pocket that I carried in the event that I was killed.

 

 

Out of curiosity, why did you keep that? I destroyed mine after every tour, because that's not really something I'd imagine one wanting their wife or kids to accidentally stumble on one day.

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ocsfollowme

They may just mail those letters back, Brig 😉

 

Why did I save my letter? I threw it in my pelican footlocker after I returned home from deployment and haven't opened it in almost the decade since I left the Army. Space is rare in SoCal so I am going to be going through it (december) to scan all documents to save space in my woodshop that the footlocker occupies, then burning everything.

 

I still have not answered your question. Afghanistan took a lot of things from me. It robbed me from my emotions and made me numb to many things. The letter is a reminder to me that war stinks, and I no longer want it, and if it can show others the perils that our men and women face in combat -- than it can open their eyes on the emotions that we face on deployment. The realities of war. So that we can have the resources to take care of our veterans.

 

It is also one of those things that as historians, we would covet war letters from the Revolutionary War, though time has destroyed many of them. Maybe in 40-60 years, people will really start collecting OIF/OEF items like we currently do with WW2. Or maybe not.

 

 

Thor966, totally understand that people like yourself pay money for items. If you want, scans are also gladly accepted. Specifically, they are trying to increase their collection with OIF/OEF letters.

 

There are a lot of people that hop onto this forum when they are cleaning out family members houses and wondering what to do with items. People would call my local American Legion post if they wanted things all of the time, but most people never want paper items (correspondence letters), so those are usually thrown out. 

 

So here is a center that specifically collects to preserve, and tell the stories, so that is why I shared this post to the USMF.

 

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Dang. I had a whole ziploc bag of letters from my deployment in 2002 that I tossed a couple months ago. 

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On 11/10/2021 at 12:06 PM, ocsfollowme said:

Maybe in 40-60 years, people will really start collecting OIF/OEF items like we currently do with WW2. Or maybe not.

 

I think you'd be very surprised with the amount of GWOT collecting that there is going on out there.  You have a lot of groundwork being done to save items along with their histories, connect units to locations and times, helmet variations being documented, and the minefield of figuring out modifications done to uniforms and what units they likely belong to.  You've got niche collectors, as well as the macro as well.  The popularity of it is growing fairly rapidly as well.

 

I first started picking up GWOT stuff after I got back from Iraq because I knew it needed saved.  On this forum it has gone from people saying "I don't even understand why you collect that" and "YOU SHOULDN'T BE COLLECTING THIS" , to a more positive environment where it is understood we're saving history.  We also are fighting our own Jkash's of the community who are having uniforms and patches made up for sale to unknowing collectors getting into the field.  Knowledge flows very freely and there is a lot of willingness to teach if you're interested in learning. 

 

 

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