If you watch any TV show with a veteran, he’s often homeless, but he keeps this medal he received perfectly preserved among his meager possessions.
The guy—and it’s always guy—is tormented by war and his buddies dying, so he keeps this medal as something that he looks at from time to time as a reminder.
It’s very Hollywood.
I’m not sure why Hollywood thinks that it would be any different than any other person. I suppose they hear “award” and think the other meaning, a prize.
Maybe there was one person who kept a medal as a reminder, and Hollywood glommed onto that for all veterans. They’re good about doing something like that.
But a way, the medal is rather impersonal. Sometimes the veterans put them on display in a shadow box. Mine are stuck in the closet somewhere. I’d have to hunt for one. The only time I took one out recently was that another writer wanted to see what one looked like.
If a veteran kept something as a remembrance, it’d be like what your parents or grandparents kept: Personal, to them. Maybe a photograph, or a card, or a letter.
Mine’s a ceramic Siamese cat. My Army buddy gave it to me in better times. War intruded and took with it her friendship, and two others.