Isn’t it funny how one chance event can change a life?

Albert Small walked into a book store back in 1951 and came across a manuscript on milestones in Washington, sparking a passion that has endured for more than half a century.

Small became a successful developer over the years, collecting bits and pieces of Washington history along the way, including George Washington’s copy of the Declaration of Independence.


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Now, at 88, Small enjoys giving his collection away. He has donated thousands of objects on the Declaration of Independence to his alma mater, the University of Virginia. He is also giving his collection on D.C. history to George Washington University.

When asked if it makes him sad to give these items away, he told Chris Wallace, “I’ve lived with them all my life, and obviously I won’t be around forever.”

Four years ago, Small started a program to send 15 high school students to Normandy each year to study what one soldier did there. This year, he set up a permanent fund to keep sending students there so that they can see how Americans sacrificed for freedom.


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Small’s years of collecting have been about celebrating the American experience and helping to keep it alive.

“Makes me feel that I have left a mark,” he said. “The message I want them to get is that we're lucky that we have what we have today, and enjoy what we have.”

Watch more in the video above.