While the events in this post happened at the end of 2019, I’m just now sharing them here on my blog.
Most people who knew my dad knew that he had a whole room in our old house in Hanover dedicated to his great uncle, Captain James “Pete” Stepro, who died in WWII in Africa in 1943. (I have previously blogged about Pete here.) Dad became the caretaker of many of Pete’s personal effects/letters/photos/pre-Army documentation from the late 30s/etc. in the early 80s, having received them from Pete’s widow. He then contacted as many people as he could who served with Pete and knew Pete in his Army days to gather as many stories as he could, and that resulted in Dad writing a book about him called Captain Pete.
Years ago now, when Dad’s health was starting to decline and they were moving away from where I’d grown up in Indiana, Dad entrusted me with this collection. At one time, I had some of it on display, but since we moved into this little house, it’s been in storage. I had actually planned/hoped to take Dad to Tunisia so that we could visit Pete’s grave, but we were unable to go before Dad passed.
In February 2019, I went to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. As I walked through the museum and looked at all the donated memorabilia that makes that museum so world-class, it occurred to me that the best possible place for Pete’s belongings related to his service was not in my storage building but in the hands of the museum… If they would take it.
In early November, after corresponding with the museum for a month or two, 90% of this collection was accepted into the “official” WWII museum of the US, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. While much of Pete’s stuff and the many wartime-related letters Dad collected will go into the museum’s archives, I am confident that some things will eventually be part of the museum’s North Africa campaign exhibit (including the coat, pants, and boots he’s wearing in this photo). With this donation, I’m preserving both family and American history AND honoring both Pete and Dad. Dad would be thrilled, according to Mom, because he always wanted Pete to be honored in a museum. Dad, I hope THIS museum meets your requirements.