WILLSHIRE, Ohio (WANE) – Every Memorial Day weekend a small home furnishings store in Willshire, Ohio goes from selling home decor to displaying the uniforms of more than 150 veterans.
Willshire Home Furnishings owner Aleta Weiss turns her store into an open house in honor of America’s veterans. She said it all began in 2011 with just one uniform – her father’s.
“This whole thing really was in memory of him and it’s just grown,” she said. “So it’s a very, very precious thing to me.”
Weiss said her father, Staff Sargent Delmore H. Mitch, never talked about his days in World War II.
“You really didn’t ask questions because he really didn’t want to open up to me,” she said.
Long after he died in 1993, she was exploring their family farm. She came upon a trunk with her father’s military memorabilia.
“Here was this man that I lived with for so many years and I really didn’t know what he’d gone through,” she said. “I just could not believe the battles he had been in. Come to find out he had been in six major battles. He was at Normandy.”
Six years ago she displayed his uniform in the window of her store in his honor, but she was moved to honor more soldiers. So she asked around and within a week, there were 23 uniforms in the store. Each year the display grew. Now, there are more than 150 uniforms. The annual tradition has become a full-blown exhibit of photos, mementos and media.
“It’s just very important that we remember these men and what they did for us by giving us freedom and going and fighting to make us all free and be able to do what we are doing today,” she said.
Weiss said she’s blessed to be a part of memorial that teaches and heals.
“I’m never gonna stop until I can’t do it anymore and I’ve got my daughter being trained and I’m hoping she’ll keep it on.”
The uniform display is open this year May 27-30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.