“It comes up quite often,” Gonzales said. “We are highly dependent on citizens with historic items. Very often it is the relatives of someone who has passed away and they will bring their items to us.”
Gonzales said if the items fall within the scope of the 45th Infantry Division Museum's collection they are accepted, but often they might be from another branch of service.
“In that case we will direct them to another museum where they might be of better use,” he said. “That's more preferable than seeing them end up in a Dumpster somewhere.”
Gonzales said context is one of the most important aspects of accepting donations, especially with photos.
“Often we'll get photos that have something recognizable that allows us to determine where and when it was taken, but sometimes it's just ‘Bill and Joe in Paris, Oct. 1944,' or something like that,” he said. “People often send us computer disks of photos and all we have are the images and a series of numbers that I have no idea what they are.”
Quality is another important factor. The 45th Infantry Division Museum has more than 1 million artifacts in its collection on display and in reserve. Some items come to the museum better than others. In the case of what Cacini donated, the items were in excellent shape.
“The annual he had was virtually in mint condition,” Gonzales said. “He must have thumbed through it once or twice and forgot about it. We have some items that are rode hard and put up wet so whenever we can acquire something that is unique and has survived in immaculate condition it is a bonus.”
For Cacini, donating the items was a way of preserving his father's memory, something his dad would have appreciated.
“I think he would have loved seeing his stuff in a museum,” Cacini said. “I think he's watching all of this. He was a great guy who was proud of his service.”