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Mementos of WWI vet on display in Main Street window
Millie Parkinson holds a frame containing medals and mementos from her father, James Garveys time in World War I. -Photo by Tallitha Reese

If you happen to be walking down Main Street in Darlington and pass by Murph’s Furniture store, you’ll notice that in the window there is quite an interesting collection on display.

The centerpiece of the collection is a military uniform that was worn by James Garvey during World War I. Also on display in the window are several photos, letters and other mementos from Garvey’s time in the first world war, including his dog tags and purple heart medal.

Garvey was 28 years old in 1918 when he received an induction letter that called him into the service to fight for his country in World War I. That letter has been preserved and is on display in the window with the collection.

Garvey was injured during his time at war and was honorably discharged in August of 1919, coming home to Darlington and later marrying Lula Colbeck and having five children: Lucile Garvey Johnson, Alberta Garvey Staver, Dwaine Garvey, Glen Garvey and Millie Garvey Parkinson. Lucile and Alberta have since passed away, but three of the siblings remain.

It was Millie Parkinson of the remaining siblings who went through a trunk that had been stored away for years that contained all of her father’s remnants of his time at war. That was about a year ago in September or October of 2012. It was then that she decided that those things should be organized and remembered.

“We want to keep everything in the family,” said Parkinson. “We’ll probably distribute most of the things between family, but the uniform and other parts of the display in Murph’s window will be moved to Virtue Motors in Darlington and displayed there, as Chris Virtue, is a granddaughter of Garvey.

Parkinson said going through all the old items and letters was very interesting. “He never really talked about the war to us kids,” said Parkinson, “usually only if there were other people there that he was talking to.”

In a book that was put together containing letters, postcards and photos that Garvey collected or sent during his time at war, there was a letter to one of his sisters that described his time at the front of one of the battles.

He noted that it was almost as if they weren’t human when they were advancing, because they had to pass comrades and soldiers who were injured and dying in pain, but just had to keep going, not able to stop to help.

That book is also available to look at inside Murph’s furniture store for any that are interested.

Garvey was one of the lucky ones who made it home after his time at war, and was able to get back to Darlington in little Lafayette County, but many did not. Even so, those who made it home would never forget the things they saw during war.

So, when you’re in town in the next week or so, stop by the window in Murph’s shop and remember the veterans from our past and our present who fought and sacrificed to give us the freedom and privileges that we sometimes tend to take for granted.