YUKON — Inside his Yukon home, Rick Cacini has an American flag his father received, along with some of the medals James Cacini earned during his long military career.
The display is part pride, part reminder of the sacrifices those like his father have made for their country. That military service was passed on to Rick, who spent 37 years in the U.S. Army before retiring.
“It reminds everyone coming into our house that we put our lives on the line for this country, and that it's a great country,” he said.
But Cacini, 66, also wants future generations to understand their country's history. He recently donated items from his father, who died in 2003, to the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City.
The items included the 45th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia and a very hard-to-find annual similar to a high school or college yearbook that chronicled the activities of the division each year.
“All of this stuff brings back so many memories of what they went through,” Cacini said. “It's a good feeling to be able to share that. There are some things that I kept, but if you can pass on these things and help a younger generation develop a sense of appreciation for those who came before them then it's all worth it.”
James Cacini spent 27 years in the military and was seriously wounded during World War II while fighting in Italy. He later served during the Korean War, working from an airplane as a forward observer. Rick grew up admiring the man his dad became through his service.
“My father meant a lot to me and his military career was something that was very important to him,” he said. “He passed that on to me. There's a sense of pride that comes with serving your country, and I saw that from an early age and wanted to be like him.”
The donation of family heirlooms isn't uncommon, but it is appreciated by museum curators. 45th Infantry Division Museum curator Mike Gonzales said about 90 percent of the items in the museum were donated from private collections.