If have a loved one who is a member of the military, there are a lot of military shadow box ideas that you should consider. Of course, much depends on whether they are active duty or in the Guard or reserve, but starting a military shadow box is a good idea to help them preserve the military mementos that they’ve earned.
If they’re on active duty and they plan on making the military a career, consider buying a larger shadow box to accommodate the many medals, ribbons, badges, coins and other items they will likely receive over the course of 20 plus years. A larger box allows them to add items to the shadow box as they earn things and over the years a once empty shadow box is sure to fill.
If you're loved one is a member of the Guard and reserve, there are lots of military shadow box ideas that can be employed to help them preserve their military medals and ribbons. Like an active-duty member, you can purchase a large shadow box for them, but like an active-duty member, this is only recommended if they plan on making the part-time military a career. If so, then a large shadow box is definitely your best bet.
If you’re thinking the military might be a one and done kind of thing for them (one enlistment), whether they are on active duty or in the Guard or reserve, then purchasing a medium shadow box or even a small shadow box might be one of your better military shadow box ideas. As they earn items, they can add them to our shadow box, but smaller boxes will be best since most first-term military members don't rack up a lot of awards and decorations.
Beyond helping preserve the military medals and ribbons of your loved ones, there are a multitude of military shadow box ideas that you can use to not only preserve your friend/family member's military memories, but help them display them with pride. Here are three quick military shadow box ideas to consider.
Patches, Ribbons and Badges
The first of the three military shadow box ideas is to get a standard military shadow box for your loved ones patches, ribbons, medals and badges; the stuff usually placed on their military uniform. These are the standard military shadow boxes that most military people have hanging in their offices or homes.
These boxes can be filled with the stripes they wore on their sleeve, the medal they received while overseas, the wings they earned in flight or parachute training, or any other uniform item that they are proud of and want to display. You can purchase the shadow box on its own and then fill it with your loved one's items, or you can have the great folks at USAMM take the guess work out of it and have them build a custom box for you using their custom shadow box builder.
Shadow Boxes with Flags
The second of the three military shadow box ideas is to get a large shadow box that includes a special case for a flag. You can include flags that have a special meaning to your loved one in this shadow box. For example, if they requested a flag be flown over a special building the day they retire from the ranks, or maybe they took a flag with them on deployment that they hold dearly. If you lost a loved one, this is a touching way to display their memorial flag and their awards too.
American, state (for National Guard personnel), unit, service and other types of flags are all great items to showcase for loved ones. Flags can be meaningful symbols to display and they should be included when you are thinking about military shadow box ideas.
Shadow Boxes with Mementos
The third of the three military shadow box ideas is to purchase a large, medium or small shadow box, and fill it with items that were important to your loved one while they served. This type of shadow box goes beyond the traditional medals and uniform items by including things of sentimental value from their military service. Just be careful because many military personnel can be very attached to a particular item. Some still carry challenge coins in their wallets from units they loved and others might hang their dog tags on their car mirrors, or use them on keychains as a proud reminder of their service. It's always best to ask before assuming someone would want something put in a shadow box.
However, some good examples of some of the items that can go into a box like this are a P-38 or P-51 can opener placed in the shadow box from their time as a grunt. Maybe they’re particularly attached to an old silver lighter that has their unit crest on it, or maybe they’re very fond of their dog tags, an MRE spoon, an enemy round they pulled from their hooch's wall, a challenge coin or some other item that is important to them. Out of all the military shadow box ideas mentioned, this one will likely be the most personal shadow box you can build for your hero because it will house important items from their time in the ranks.
To sum it up, when you are considering military shadow box ideas for the hero in your life, ensure those military shadow box ideas conform to their wishes. Unlike the military with its regulations and conformity, military shadow boxes are a deeply personal thing and you can build something to display whatever your hero is most proud of.