Create A Deployment Memory Box

Tips To Preserve Your Deployment Keepsakes

memory box
Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill

For military families, deployments are an unforgettable experience. But as the years pass, memories often fade–especially those associated with smaller, less-significant events that happened during the separation.

One quick and easy way to preserve those memories is to create a deployment memory box. 


The Box Itself

The container you choose can be as simple or extravagant as you desire. Here are just a few of your options:

  • A large plastic tub with a lid.
  • A footlocker, such as the ones used when by your servicemember to ship his or her personal items home.
  • A cedar chest. This option is especially good if you're storing anything made of cloth. Ceder is well known for its ability to keep moths away. 
  • A basic cardboard box. This should be your last choice becaue cardborad boxes are easy to damage and they aren't very good at protecting the contents of the box. To keep whatever's insdide from getting moldy, mildewy, or musty, or from rotting or being eaten by moths or other pests, you'll want to make sure you store the box in a dry, moisture-resistant place.


What to Put Into Your Memory Box

  • A uniform that the servicemember wore during the deployment
  • Letters, cards, and e-mails that the servicemember sent from the deployment and/or that the family sent to the servicemember.
  • Photos--either taken by the servicemember or family members
  • Unit newsletters
  • Yellow ribbons and service banners that the family proudly displayed on the homefront.
  • Mugs, t-shirts, and sweatshirts related to the deployment.
  • A copy of U.S. customs form you filled out when you shipped all those care packages.
  • A notebook and/or your pre-deployment lists.
  • Dolls, blankets, and other items that the children had to remind them of the parent who was deployed
  • Video or audio recordings that the deployed parent made before shipping out--things like stories, poems, or simply love message.


Don't Forget...

As we all know, memories--even ones we think, while they're happening, that we'll never forget--do, in fact, fade with time. So before you put anything that isn't completely obvious into the memory box, label it in some way so you'll be able to easily identify it later. For example, if you have a clear plastic bag containing yellow ribbons, you could include a note stating, "Yellow ribbons that Sherry hung on the front porch during Brad's deployment."

Your memory box will become an important part of your family history. Decades from now, when your descendants look through the box, your notes could answer many questions. At the very least, your great-great grandkids will thank you.


Updated by Armin Brott, March 2016