SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Aug. 30 two Canadians, both members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Honorary Colonel Kevin McCormick and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Motyl, visited the Military Museum and Veterans Research Center located at 61 Lake Ave. to honor and preserve the service and sacrifice of members of the United States Armed Forces by locating historic US military pieces and repatriate them with family members, military museums, educational platforms and/or communities. The pair also traveled to Utica and Rochester to do the same later on in the day.
“There seems to have been a gap on Ebay or other online sites. You find a lot of memorabilia but it tends to just be purchased up by collector then put back into drawers. Our goal is to make sure these things were coming from out of the shadows and research was being done to make sure we could track down the proper owners and bring it to the forefront so we could make sure that these things were honored and preserved. It was a challenge but we saw a gap and we’re just trying to fill that. We see it as a honorable way to bring these things back to light,” Motyl said.
The project is called the Service and Sacrifice Initiative. Both Motyl and McCormick have already completed it for Canada and when looking to expand, the first place they thought of was the United States.
“Canada and America have been close friends and allies for a long time. The close bond that
we have currently, as well as in our past, in Korea and Vietnam there were actually Canadians there as well and in both World Wars Canada and America were staunch allies and fought together in many battles,” Motyl said.
The goal is to encompass all 50 states in the initiative as well as all the military branches, service members, both male and female, and cover all major conflicts and wars. At the Saratoga stop, Motyl and McCormick were trying to track family members that may be related to a letter from the Civil War era. Although they could not find direct lineage, they did find a museum to accommodate the letter, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs. Postcards that dawn World War I art history that is also associated with some of the armories in the area were brought to museums as well.
Motyl’s most interesting piece of memorabilia that he has come across since starting the U.S. arm of the project is love letters from World War II, a correspondence between a private and his wife.
“We managed to find the individual in Pratt, South Dakota. He’s 101 years old and living in a senior’s home and we arranged to have those letters returned to him and we’re going to make sure there’s a request that those letters be given to the Pratt’s Military Museum,” Motyl said.
Motyl and McCormick have a larger goal. The two encourage everyone, if they’re interested in this sort of work, to find these pieces, do the research, and find a place of honor to put them into whether it is the owner, their affiliation or a museum.