Our family wasn’t much for heirlooms.

My mother, especially in her years as a busy young wife of an Air Force officer, tended to shed things, rather than save and curate them, as we moved every year or two.

So when I was going through her belongings after she died in 2015, I wasn’t surprised to find that there were not very many artifacts of my early years.

One of the few items she thought was important enough to keep was a little yellow booklet, a small document with many addendums, held together by staples that rusted decades ago.

On the front cover, above my name, it says, “International Certificates of Vaccination as Approved by the World Health Organization.” Inside are page after page of records of the immunizations and boosters I received — for typhus, typhoid, polio, flu, cholera, smallpox.

There are those on the right today who would call this a “vaccine passport.” Demanding that people show evidence of their covid-19 vaccination status has become a front in the raging culture wars. States across the country are moving to restrict schools and other institutions from requiring people to demonstrate their vaccination status or immunity to the virus.

How did we come to this? Immunizations have long been required for international travel. Do residents of this country deserve any less transparency and protection? There exist vaccines that are safe and effective against a virus that has killed more than 600,000 in the United States and whose new strain is turning its fury on the unvaccinated.

The stipulations of my own immunization record were unbending: “It is the responsibility of the traveler to have the ‘approved stamp’ applied to the smallpox vaccination certificate or the cholera vaccination certificate. The certificate is not valid without the stamp and may not be accepted when required in international travel.”

Rather than resent an impingement on their liberties, my parents’ generation thought of these requirements as freedom itself.

Freedom from the terror that had cast a shadow on my mother’s own childhood, when poliomyelitis — also known as infantile paralysis — killed thousands of young people every year and left many more disabled for life. My mother’s uncle, who lived across the back alley from my grandparents, walked only with difficulty, dragging an ankle with a heavy metal brace.

When she was a child, summer was known as “polio season.” Swimming pools were shut down and patrons of movie theaters were told not to sit too closely together. My mother’s maiden name rhymed with the word “polio”; other kids at school, with the casual cruelty of which children are capable, seized upon that and turned it into a taunt against her and her sisters.

Once the polio vaccine finally arrived, it surely would have been unthinkable to my mother — along with other parents of her generation — to deny this miracle to their children.

Vaccine hesitancy has been around a long time, but rages now against covid immunizations largely because of the spread of misinformation on social media and among right-wing outlets. It has become a political signifier.

The initial resistance to the coronavirus vaccine shown by members of the military was something I found surprising and perturbing. In February, Pentagon officials told the House Armed Services Committee that one-third of troops were declining to be immunized.

But the military, as it does, is stepping up.

An estimated 70 percent of personnel have received at least one dose. Last week, Fort Rucker in Alabama — where less than half the surrounding population has been vaccinated — made headlines when senior officers were authorized to check the vaccination status of service members not wearing a mask while on duty.

Maj. Gen. David Francis, commanding general of Fort Rucker, was operating under guidance issued in June by the Defense Department, under which it stated that “unmasked, fully vaccinated Service members should be prepared to show proof of vaccination.”

Unfortunately, there are glaring loopholes. The new order at Fort Rucker also noted that civilian employees on the base “must be taken at their word unless the supervisor has good reason not to.” And the order does not speak to the question of vaccinating military dependents.

The armed forces should do more. There is no reason that vaccinations against covid should not be required of military members, as other immunizations, such as annual flu shots, currently are. The imperative is all the greater with the emergence of the delta variant, which has seen more hospital admissions of younger patients.

For my mother, that vaccination record was more than a bureaucratic imperative. It was a testament to her duty as a parent and a statement of the call to service that every military family shares.

That little yellow booklet was worth setting aside as a keepsake, and I am grateful that she did.