Saturday Stories: Military Service


Every family has veterans of whom they are proud.  Anyone who is willing to put their life on the line in the defense of their nation is to be lauded.  So many who have done so have ended up having to pay the ultimate price.

As I have done research into my family, I have found many family who have served.  Both the Good Guy and I have family that goes back to the initial colonization of the United States.  In fact, after pouring through records, I discovered that he and I are actually tenth cousins once removed.  How weird is that?   We both have people from New England.  We also both have family who came from Holland to New Amsterdam.  He has an ancestor who came to Virginia as an indentured servant in the 1600s.

Those who came over and became part of the first Americans went on to have family who fought in the Revolutionary War.  I have a great-great+ grandfather who fought with the minutemen in Concord.  The Good Guy has one who was at Valley Forge with George Washington.  After their service, these veterans were given land.  My people ended up in Western New York, while the Good Guy’s went back to Virginia.

Almost a century later,  I found only one great-great+ grandfather who served in the Civil War, but I have a lot of holes in my family tree.  The Good Guy’s family, for the most part, answered the call of the West and were pioneers who had left the East before the War Between the States.  I think I am glad that they had left the South before our ancestors were put in the position to fight each other.

I found the World War I draft registrations of my great grandfathers.  My great grandfather’s brother went to France and never came home.  The Good Guy’s grandmother’s brother did the same thing.  Both are buried in military cemeteries over there.

World War II didn’t claim any of my family.  I had some great uncles who served, but my own grandfathers weren’t in the military.  The Good Guy’s uncle was a tail gunner in the bombers who flew raids in Europe.  He was wounded and spent some time in a hospital in England.   Somewhere, in the family stuff at my mother-in-law’s house are some of the letters a nurse wrote for him.

The Good Guy’s father graduated from high school in 1945.  He joined the Navy, but didn’t see any action.  He finished up his military service in the early 1950s, but spent most of his time in Nevada, not Korea.  My father was a career Air Force officer.  I have already written of some of his experiences in a B-52 in Vietnam.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I love my family.  I love the ones I have known, but I have also developed a love for those who lived years, even centuries before me.  The more I find out, the more real they become.  When I find a picture of them, it is all the better.  It’s so much fun to compare pictures of my brothers with those of long departed grandfathers.  There is a kinship I feel when I read records of service, land grants, even ship passenger lists that contain just the name of an ancestor.  Knowing when they lived and where, how they died or what they did for a living,  whether or not they gave up time to serve in the military, it all gives me a better sense of who I am and who I want to be.

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