I was teaching American history to 8th graders in the 1980s . The principal of the small school walked into my classroom one day with a package . There was a Gold Star flag on top . She had five brothers , all of them in the military during WWII , a star for each , sewn on silk . One gold star indicates that one of them had been killed in action . ” This is what was in his pockets , ” she said . “This is what the Army sent home .” She told me that she would like me to have it . What is to be said after that . I told her it was an honor . There is an insurance ID card , a sewing kit , religious memorabilia , a couple of “Yank” reprints , patches . There is a map from his Army unit charting the unit’s path toward Germany . The map , not a working map , but kind of a morale -promotional souvenir map, is marked with the Victory-in- Europe date . He had this in his pocket when he was killed . Yeah . Think about it . After the war was officially over , this soldier was killed in action . What had been sent home easily fit into a small sack , but the results of what he and countless others did is boundless and immeasurable .