Military artifact whisperers shed light on family treasures

Saturday - 2/23/2013, 10:24pm EST

War artifacts become Marine Corps Museum treasure

Kathy Stewart, WTOP

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Jennifer Castro, curator general collection, and Al Houde, curator ordinance, analyze military objects during the Artificats Roadshow at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Saturday in Triangle. Japanese cookware, shrapnel and expended cartridges lie on the table with sake bottles in background. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

TRIANGLE, Va. - Chris Cardona wanted to learn more about his grandfather's World War II uniform. So he sought help from the artifact whisperers.

Cardona attended the fifth annual Artifact Roadshow at the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico. Museum officials compare it to the PBS program "Antiques Roadshow" except all of the items brought to the museum's show were military-related.

The museum provided experts to examine objects and give owners insights as to what it was, where it came from and how to preserve it.

Cardona, a Marine who lives in Stafford, is an amateur historian and collects uniforms, including his grandfather's Marine uniform.

"His picture is actually here in the museum in the World War II section," Cardona says of his grandfather. "This gentleman is giving me ideas about how to preserve and keep everything together and put notes in the pockets (of the uniforms). What to do and not to do to preserve my family's history."

He sought help from Owen Conner, the museum's curator of uniforms and heraldry, which refers to the medals, flags and personal equipment a Marine carries.

"The idea of doing the road show was to help the public learn more about their families' items," Conner says.

In addition to helping the public, the museum hopes to preserve Marine Corps history, Conner says.

Head curator Bob Sullivan says during past roadshows, visitors brought family heirlooms including a beaded purse that was made by Geronimo's daughter or granddaughter.

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