MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On this Memorial Day, the Alabama Department of Archives and History looks back on the different ways in which Alabamians have served their country.
“From really the beginning of our founding as an agency, one of our core missions has been to document the service of Alabamians,” Alabama Department of Archives and History Director Steve Murray said.
Murray says since 1901, the museum has collected and cared for materials that document Alabama’s history of service.
“We’ve got uniforms and arms and mess kits, canteens, all the things that help to set an understanding of what that experience is like,” Murray said.
With those items, Murray says those who haven’t served or weren’t alive during the time period can better understand the sacrifices made.
“That’s something that’s difficult for us to imagine how difficult that can be. But we can, I think, through understanding the history of service, understand and appreciate greater the commitment of people who are willing to serve our country in uniform, and very often to put their lives on the line,” Murray said.
From steel manufacturing in Birmingham to shipbuilding in Mobile, Murray says every part of the state and every walk of life has played some role in service.
“One of the things that I think is important to remember at Memorial Day and always is that people, whether they’re rich or poor, urban or rural, black or white, there’s a long history of service of Alabamians,” Murray said.
While the museum is closed on this holiday, you can use their website database to find records of Alabama soldiers in your family who fought in the Civil War and World War I.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates Alabama has more than 370,000 veterans living in the state.