Monday, September 19, 2011

In Memory

On Friday, September 2, my father lost his two-year battle with cancer. As my mother and I went through his things so we could see what we could donate, what she wanted to keep and what us kids (I’m one of three) wanted to hold onto, I tried to think of a fitting way to store the small items I wanted to keep. I didn’t want to put things in a box (though some things are stored away) since I was and am so proud of my father and I wanted to create a meaningful display for things that he loved so much.

My father was a retired U.S. Marine so we found a ton of medals, chevrons and other military memorabilia in addition to his hunting and fishing gear. We divided the medals, dog tags and other items among all of us – here’s a small sampling of mine:

1dad_things_athomewithhI went to Michael’s yesterday to find a suitable shadow box that would fit the hat and some of his other items as shown above (not everything is pictured and not all of this made it into the box).  I came home with three different shadow boxes to try out – a white 11x14 box, a black 12x16 box and a black 14x18 box.

dad_boxes_athomewithh I decided to just lie the hat on the boxes to see which one would be wide enough for it without unwrapping them since I wanted to make my returns to Michael’s as easy as possible (side note: Dad always laughed that I would return things to stores. He really found that humorous for some reason so I’ll definitely smile as I return the unused boxes this week). The hat didn’t fit across the smallest box and when I put it sideways I just didn’t like how it fit and that not much else would really fit into the box.


1dad_box1b_athomewithh That box was put back in the shopping bag and I tried box #2. This one fit things a little better but I realized it wouldn’t fit anything other than the military items and hunting/fishing were such big parts of my Dad’s life that I wanted them incorporated.  Also, to make more things fit I had to put the hat sideways again and I just wasn’t feeling that look.

dad_box2_athomewithh Box #3 proved to work the best for what I wanted. I could fit everything I wanted without it feeling too jumbled. I also loved that this box had a hinged front so it would make adding things a LOT easier and the greige background was perfect for showcasing the items.

1dad_box3_athomewithhI played around with the items inside the box for a bit before deciding on the final layout. Then I just needed to figure out where to hang it. I wanted it somewhere where I would see it every day so the office and guest bedroom were out. I decided that a wall in the hallway outside of my bedroom would be perfect since it would be the only thing hanging on the narrow wall, thus making it the focal point.

dad_wall_before_athomewithh  shadowbox_tall_athomewithh


The contents of the shadow box are:

  • his USMC uniform hat
  • patch from one of his USMC uniform shirts
  • the name tag from one of his USMC uniform shirts
  • his Rifle Expert medal
  • I’m not sure what the brass item is called but they were screwed onto his Marine Blues hat
  • a ticket stub from a Detroit Lions game that he, mom and I went to a few years ago
  • the tie from his USMC uniform
  • his dog tag
  • a patch from hunting in 1991
  • three various levels of chevrons – these were attached to his uniforms
  • three colored bars, I’m not sure what they stood for but they were also worn on his uniform (if you scroll all the way back up you can see them on his uniform in the top picture)
  • a fishing lure from his tackle box

shadowbox_wide_athomewithhI love the thickness of the shadow box – it isn’t too deep so it doesn’t stick out too far from the wall (which is good since I’m notoriously clumsy and would likely bump into anything much deeper).

shadowbox_side_athomewithhSo that’s part one of things I brought home that were once Dad’s. I hope I honored him appropriately with the shadow box – it is hard deciding what is important enough to put on display or what really captures who a person is since he was so much more than just what is shown in this box. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, uncle, son, grandson, brother, cousin and friend.  Posting will likely remain slow around here as I deal with things or maybe I’ll do a lot of projects to keep my mind busy – who knows - but thanks for understanding.

**Update: I updated the pictures since after my father’s Military Rites my uncle pointed out that the chevrons point upward vs. downward. He also told us that each bar on the chevron indicates a rank in the Marine Corps so it was fun to find out why I found three different chevrons and what they represent.**


  1. That's a beautiful tribute, Heather.
    Good job and big hugs!

  2. I am very sorry to hear about your loss. :-( This is a beautiful way to always have him around you.

  3. Hey chica! I love this idea! What a great way to remember him!

    For some reason I cannot leave posts under my google account for this blog???

    So I'm anonymous today :)
    -Danielle Michelle

  4. So sorry to hear about your dad. Your shadow box is a wonderful way to honor and remember him.

  5. I'm very sorry to read this about your dad. The shadow box is beautiful. My condolences to you and your loved ones.

  6. So very sorry to hear of your Fathers passing. This is a beautiful display of his Marine Corps career. Being from a Marine Corps Family we noticed that his chevrons were being displayed upside down, if there was a special reason for them being displayed this way im sorry for the intrusion. Again sorry for your fathers passing, SEMPER FI!

  7. Hi Anon,

    You're correct - the chevrons are upside down in the pics. I corrected this over a month ago but haven't uploaded the pics so thank you for the reminder! My uncle actually told us what each bar on the chevrons represents, which was really neat to find out since us kids never knew.

    And thanks to everyone for the condolences. Sorry, this post has been kind of hard for me to revisit since the loss of my father has been incredibly hard on me but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I figured I'd revisit and update the pictures.

    ~ heather

  8. much love to you and yours Heather...


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