History Christmas Decorations

A few weeks ago, I made my annual pilgrimage to the garage to sift through the boxes and Rubbermaid bins filled to the brim with Christmas decorations from years past. My family and I started unpacking the boxes to decide which ornaments and other knickknacks would make this year’s decorative cut.

As I fumbled through the ornaments, lights, garland, nutcrackers, and other trinkets, I started to wonder if any of the generational hand-me-downs had any collectible value – other than the obvious sentimental value. My curiosity got the best of me, so I did a little digging to learn more about Christmas decorations – their origin, purpose, and overall collectability.

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Civil War Cannonball

On the side of a ravine in Vicksburg, Mississippi, young John Jr. squirmed on the ground with his outstretched arm desperately trying to reach an object buried deep inside the Mississippi soil. Having just dug a 14-inch deep hole with the help of his Brother, Mother, and Father, John Jr. extended his hand and fingertips just enough to make contact with the object. He could see enough; and feel enough, of the object to know that something cool was waiting to be unearthed. Being the kind of mom that she is, Nikki pushed her metal detector to the side, rolled up her sleeves, and helped her sons unearth a piece of Civil War history – a Confederate cannonball from the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863).

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recording family history

Most mornings on the drive into work, I’ll have NPR playing on the radio to catch up on the news or the occasional odd story. On most Friday’s, NPR will play a short segment from StoryCorps. For those of you who have never heard of StoryCorps, it is a U.S. based, non-profit organization whose goal is to record and preserve the oral history of Americans from all walks of life. Usually, it is just two individuals sharing a short conversation about their past or discussing a life changing event. Topics cover a whole range of life events and are always interesting. Check out an example at the bottom of this post.

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On this Labor Day, we revisit the role propaganda posters played in helping America win WWII. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government realized that the production of war material was going to be crucial to its success in fighting both Japan and Germany.

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Since the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), and perhaps before then, soldiers across every continent have spent their idle time converting military accoutrements and implements of war into decorative pieces of art. Common materials used to create such artwork include bone, artillery shells, lead bullets, canteens, and brass shell casings.

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The word “Stonewall” is quite arguably the most recognizable name in American military history. It’s synonymous with that of steadfast leadership, devout obedience, and military prowess.

Gen. Thomas Jonathon Jackson was adored by his troops, trusted by his superiors, respected by his enemies, and still studied by today’s military leaders. His ascent to such acclaim and admiration was born from humble beginnings.

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Tracking Family History

Recently, I took a trip to visit my folks on the family farm in Tennessee. They are just now settling into retirement which I would assume brings on a bit of reflection on the past, family heritage and family future.

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In recognition of America’s 20th anniversary of independence, on July 4, 1795, patriot Paul Revere, Massachusetts Governor Samuel Adams, and Colonel William Scollay buried a time capsule underneath a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House―the same building that is topped by a copper dome made by Revere’s company, the Revere Copper Company.

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The United States Postal Service™ began its commemoration of the 150th year anniversary of the Civil War in 2011. A souvenir sheet with two stamp designs has been issued each year, from 2011 to 2015. Under the direction of Art Director Phil Jordan, historical lithographs, paintings, and chromolithographs were selected for the stamp designs.

Here’s a quick snapshot of each year’s commemorative stamps with additional commentary from the Postal Service:

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