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Left Behind: The stories behind the items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall

Left Behind: The stories behind the items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. (Photo: Kevin Drennen/ABC7)

ABC 7 News has been working on a documentary for most of 2016 about items left behind at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. We felt Veterans Day would be an appropriate time to release this powerful story. These very personal and intimate objects, like a rotor blade from a downed helicopter, speak not only to sacrifice but ultimately to our deepest desire to heal from a complicated and painful past. If you would like to share your story or provide feedback, we welcome it. Please email jkorff@sbgtv.com with your thoughts.

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The Warehouse

When you step inside an unassuming warehouse in Hyattsville, Maryland you’re reminded that extraordinary items are sometimes found in unremarkable places.

“We’re always finding new and interesting things,” says National Park Service museum technician Janet Donlin.

The National Park Service National Capital Region Museum Resource Center houses millions of treasured artifacts from America’s past.

Writings, records and artwork from National Park Service sites in the D.C. region, like Ford’s Theater and the Frederick Douglas estate, are carefully preserved and stored here when not on display.

National Park Service Park Curator Laura Anderson says, “These objects all tell a story and it’s a very powerful experience to work with these objects.”

But the bulk of this cavernous depository of history was actually amassed by you as a thank you.

Donlin says, “So everything in these boxes has been left at The Wall.”

This place is not open to the public.

“We call it the floor. Its artifact storage and the blue boxes that you see in front of you are where we store the Vietnam collection,” says Donlin.