The Netherlands, 2007 -- Sometimes, it seemed to Piet van Schuppen that it must be where all of history began, the little five-mile circle of Holland where he lived.
He spent his free time with a metal detector, exploring the meadows and fields around his home near Andelst, a village in the Dutch province of Gelderland.
His collection of treasures stretched back as far as civilization, from tiny relics of the Bronze Age to ancient Roman coins and hand grenades from World War I.
Sometimes he gave the treasures to the people who own the land where he found them, but often he felt a duty to do more than that. Such was the case when his metal detector began to ping alongside a country road.
Twenty centimeters beneath the surface, long buried and forgotten, van Schuppen found a single military dog tag. It was in pieces, rusted and broken from the weight of its own history.
It was not the first set of dog tags he'd found and probably would not be the last, but it was poignant all the same.
The Dutch people celebrate the day the Americans came to help end Adolf Hitler's grip on Holland during World War II, he said. His parents had been part of the Dutch resistance that fought against the German occupiers.
"My father, he didn't want to work for the Germans," recalled van Schuppen, 66. "They went underground. My mother had to deliver messages to the groups. She had a bicycle with no rubber on the wheels."
This was not just a piece of metal, he said.
He gathered the delicate artifacts and carried them home. He brushed them off and reassembled them, carefully piecing them together on a bed of red felt.
A name became clear.
Phillip A. Nichols