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Medals and memorabilia that were once lost or abandoned were returned to the families of West Virginia veterans who served in World War II, Vietnam and Korea on Thursday.
The items belonging to 13 veterans had been turned over to the State Treasury Department’s Unclaimed Property Division after they were found in safe deposit boxes.
State Treasurer Riley Moore said it’s something that his department sees fairly often. But previously, when families became aware of the memorabilia, they had to go through a lengthy process to settle with banks and notarize paperwork to get it back.
A law passed earlier this year, however, allows the state to directly return items to their owners and settle fees with the bank for them.
“These items represent the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans, and I believe they should be handled with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Moore said during a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center and State Museum in Charleston, where the veterans were honored. All but one had passed away in a broad range of years between 1940 and 2011.
Before the memorabilia was presented, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard Maj. Gen. William Crane said that in his office, he displays a Bible his grandfather carried with him when he was fighting in World War II.
“It means so much to me to have this,” he said, holding the Bible up to show the group. “At the end of the day, it’s paper, but there’s so much behind that paper, just the same as there’s so much behind these pieces of ribbon and pieces of metal.”
Crane said he hoped families receiving memorabilia that day will display the items in places of honor.
“They don’t need to be in a safety deposit box,” he said. “They’re something for you to remember your family member by.”