As Independence Day approaches, I can't help but reflect on my own years of service in the U.S. Air Force and the sacrifices of all military personal. As a staff member of Palmetto Historical Park, I'm especially proud of our Cypress House Military Museum.
The museum went through a complete transformation in June 2014. Going through all the military artifacts, we discovered a few items that we now know can be classified as Military Trench Art. These items intrigued my interest to learn more. As I surfed the web, I was amazed by the beautiful pieces of artwork that were done by our servicemen going back to the early 1900s.
The term "trench art" is hard to define, but is generally recognized as any decorative item made by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians where the manufacture is directly linked to armed conflict or its consequences. Common articles that this includes are decorated shell and bullet casings, and items carved from wood and bone.
Not limited to the World Wars, the history of trench art spans conflicts from the Napoleonic Wars to the present day. Although the practice flourished during World War I, the term is also used to describe souvenirs manufactured by service personnel during World War II. Some items manufactured by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians during earlier conflicts have been retrospectively described as trench art. You can see these pieces of art work by going to Google, clicking on Images and typing in Military Trench Art.
I feel this art work is a very important part of our military history; many of these pieces have a great story to tell that hasn't been told yet. A lot of these items of art are still not on display, but are laying around in dusty attics, closets, storage areas, and in old military foot lockers. While World War I produced large amounts of trench art, the need for
scrap metal during World War II resulted in much of it being lost.
The Palmetto Historical Park would like to set up a display of trench art in our military museum. The items can be donated to the historical park or loaned for temporary display. If you or someone in your family has an item and would like have it on display or donate it to the military museum, contact the Palmetto Historical Park.
Some of you might have these items at home without knowing it. Only after researching this topic did we realize that some pieces in the historical park's collection fall into this category. And we're supposed to be museum professionals!
A lot of trench art is still being sold today in antique shops and flea markets. Sadly, the stories that go along with these items have been lost. While trench art is historically significant and often pretty to look at, to have a story about the history of an item is priceless. Palmetto Historical Park's Military Museum is honored to display trench art from our community. We are hoping to add to this collection and encourage you to get in touch if you have something you think might be trench art. We'd love to be able to tell personal stories about our military heroes and their art.
Steve Ahern, maintenance technician at Palmetto Historical Park, is not only knowledgeable about military artifacts, but can also build whole museum exhibits out of Popsicle sticks and other "junk." Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-723-4991.