- Mail call was what you looked forward to all day long, and you would share with your tent mates or people that you work with what you got, because you never knew who wasn't getting any mail.
So we all shared everything.
We looked forward to that all day long.
- Hi, I'm Shain Brenden.
As a veteran, I understand how objects we brought back from service can be so meaningful.
They can remind us why we served and what we did or help us transition back to civilian life.
Today I talk with a veteran whose object symbolizes the importance of family and service.
- I'm Yolanda Mayo.
I'm a retired Sergeant Major in the United States Marine Corps.
Even in high school, I had always thought about doing something for my country.
I dropped out of college and joined the Marine Corps on Christmas Eve.
I honestly thought, you know, young and inexperienced, we're going to go save the world.
In 1990, I was deployed to Desert Shield, Desert Storm.
My husband was in the Marine Corps as well.
Actually, it was about 10 days after we got married, I headed out to Saudi Arabia.
- And what was your role in Saudi Arabia?
- I was a mechanic.
A typical day for us would be taking equipment in that had been dragged out through the field and trying to get it to work again.
So I'd been there for probably what, four months, five months, and my husband had sent me a package for Easter.
And he sent me a stuffed bunny.
And I'm like, oh, look, I got a bunny.
Everybody was laughing, and they were like, she got a bunny.
- And how did the bunny become such a special object for you?
- There in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, he was a special object because he was a piece of home.
When I got home, we are having our first child and trying to come up with what we're going to decorate the nursery in.
I decided to decorate in bunnies because I was looking at the bunny and I'm like, well, he's got pink and blue and white, and it'll match whatever we have.
And when our son was born, I gave him the bunny.
That was his first toy was the bunny.
And he had the bunny in the crib, and he had the bunny in his cradle.
And when our daughter was born after him, he passed the bunny down to our daughter.
So now she's got the bunny, and her whole bedroom was decorated in bunnies.
I transferred into the Reserves in 1993.
In my head, I was doing this for my kids.
I need to stop running around the world.
When 9/11 happened, I was recalled to active duty.
So I'm in my living room with my sea bag and everything out on the floor, trying to figure out how I'm going to fit my life for the next year.
And my son was watching, and it, you know, it was a little bit upsetting for him.
So he went upstairs, and he came back down with my daughter, and the two of them together brought me the bunny.
And I'm looking at them, and they're like, mom, you have to take the bunny back with you.
They wanted to give me a piece of home.
And that's what, that's what the bunny stands for.
He stands for when you're in a combat zone, you're not worrying about the politics of why you're there, of what put you there.
What you care about is the person on your left and the person on your right.
And all all of you want to do is go home.
- How did bunny end up from stuffed down in your sea bag to the National Museum of Marine Corps?
- One of the women that I served with, she ended up working for the museum.
They were getting ready to do this exhibit called the Modern-Day Marine.
She said, can we have the bunny?
And I said, let me ask my kids.
They've had my uniform and the bunny for a couple years now.
- Why do you think the bunny became so important to you and your family?
- I didn't think, okay, I'm going to keep this.
I'm going to keep that.
It never started out like that.
I mean, anything could have happened in any of the moves.
I mean, we could have lost him, but for some reason, bunny made it through.
Home represents freedom to all of us, and he represented home.