FARMINGTON, Maine — You don't need to be a veteran to appreciate the service and sacrifices made by men and women. A man in Farmington feels more connected than ever to his grandfather who served in World War I.
Steve Etzel was searching for a leaf for his dining room table in his attic when he discovered something he wasn't looking for: a suitcase filled with World War I memorabilia belonging to his grandfather, Leon Emery.
"It was an army suitcase, but it was empty and then this other one I picked up," Etzel said. "I could tell was very heavy, so I picked it up and opened it up and there was all the artifacts."
His grandfather, Emery, graduated from high school in 1917 and enlisted in the Army right away. He served for just over 200 days in France.
"This is a gas mask," Etzel said while going through the suitcase. "We kind of forget that in World War I mustard gas was used a lot."
Etzel believes that his grandmother packed the suitcase when Emery passed away in 1971. It's been 102 years since the Army veteran served his country. He was preparing for battle the day the allies and Germany signed an agreement.
"Narrative of the morning of November 11th, Armistice Day, when they were ready to go into battle again and it describes the battlefield with bodies still lying on the battlefield," Etzel said.
Etzel is able to go through history, finding a pride that's even stronger since the discovery of an old suitcase tucked away in the attic.
"Finding this information and finding more about what my grandfather did, makes it much more meaningful for me," he Etzel.
Some of the World War I memorabilia will be on display in August in the lobby of the Merrill Auditorium in Portland for the showing of the 1927 silent movie Wings.