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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in military (13)

Wednesday
Jan182012

Library of Congress: Stories from the Veterans History Project

I am in the process of scanning and organizing some of my grandfather's old pictures from his time in the army during WWII. There are pictures from army reunions he attended with my grandmother and quite a few from his time at Fort Dix in the 1960's. Unfortunately, both he and my grandmother are passed away so I can't go to them with my questions. Instead I do what I know best, scour the internet for clues.

This is how I came to find The Veterans History Project. The project "collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war." They have a section called Stories from the Veterans History Project where there are hundreds of first person veteran interviews you can actually listen to! The veteran's stories cover WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I could listen to the voices of these heroes for hours. * I had to download real player to listen to the audio.

Do you know a veteran? Why don't you participate and help share their story!? Check out the participation guidelines for conducting interviews. It's rather simple and could be a very special way to preserve your family history for many generations to come.

Saturday
Nov122011

NYC Veterans Day Parade 2011

The NYC Veterans Day Parade is the largest celebration in the country, with 20,000 veterans, supporters, bands, and other entertainment marching in the parade. It was a beautiful fall day. I had the great opportunity to chat with some sweet WWII Veterans, thanking them for their courage.

 

Click the picture to start the slideshow. Then click the square and arrow icon in the lower right hand corner to view the pictures full screen.

Thursday
Oct202011

Tom Brokaw's Tribute to The Greatest Generation

I'm just about finished reading The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw and I couldn't wait to spread the word about how much I enjoyed this book. This is a very emotional and inspirational tribute to those of the World War II generation. He shares the stories of ordinary people who were called to serve and protect our country overseas, women who found work in factories to support the forces, heroes who gave their lives for our freedom, individuals who faced racial adversity. Brokaw pieced together the stories of this generation beautifuly. He demonstrated how this great generation played a significant role in securing the future prosperity of our country; through hard work, determination, teamwork, and the heartbreaking love stories.

Brokaw opens the book with his childhood. Growing up in the prairies of South Dakota he was surrounded by individuals who gave their service to our country in World War II. But it wasn't until he was on assignment in Normandy, France for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, that the true sacrifice and greatness of this generation hit home. Talking with American soldiers who returned to the beaches for the somber anniversary, listening to their stories, hearing the pain and sadness in their voices. Brokaw describes this experience as "a life-changing experience".

I completely understand this sentiment. What I have learned about my grandfather and his WWII experience has changed my life. Growing up I knew my grandfather, Col. Joseph K Wright, had served in WWII but had little to no interest in what he did or his story. He passed away in 2004, before I started on this journey of exploring my family history and it's place in the history and I am left with questions and a sadness for him. I am doing what I can to piece together his story, but I just wish I could have discussed it with him. Reading this book has given me such insight into the struggle and sacrifice of his generation.

In 1942 Joseph married my grandmother in Seattle, Washington where he was stationed for training, probably wanting to be married before his inevitable deployment overseas. A story so common for the time period. My grandmother was one of the lucky ones who had her sweetheart return to her alive. A byproduct of this terrible war I never considered was the vast number of young twenty something widows left to rebuild and move on with their lives. So many with young babies who never had the chance to meet their father. How devastating it must have been for them, one day learning the life they had envisioned and planned would never happen. In the book Brokaw shares a few of their stories and it is truly heart breaking. (Pg. 257 the stories of Jeanette Gagne Norton and Daphne Cavin...get the tissues ready.)

The picture to the left was taken May 1943 in Olympia, Washington. Left to right: Joe (my grandfather), Marjorie (my grandmother), Charlie, Jimmy, Bea, Peg, Rus, Harry, Nella.

With the current economic climate this book would be a a real eye opener for many to realize just how bad it could really be (AND WAS!) and serve as inspiration for moving forward through tough times. This generation worked hard and persevered through the toughest of times. They grew up during the great depression with nothing. When called to action they enlisted and fought in foreign lands leaving behind loved ones and their individual future. While they fought they saw their friends and brothers killed- all the while having to continue on and stay alive. For those who made it back home they continued to work hard and administered the principles learned in the war to their every day lives. A never ending work ethic and dedication to community. We could all learn a lot from this great generation.

I definitely recommend reading this book. Do you have a WWII book recommendation?

Wednesday
Oct122011

Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution: First Steps 

I am in the beginning stages of joining the prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A non profit women's organization established in 1890, the organization focuses on the promotion of historic preservation, education, and patriotism.  If you are a male, you can apply for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.

Membership in these organizations gives you a forum for the exchange of historical information and genealogy research with others with shared interests. Any female 18+ who can provide documentation of their lineal descent* from a Patriot of the American Revolution can apply for DAR membership. There are approx 3,000 local chapters of the DAR, you can search for a chapter near you. *Lineal Descent: Belonging to or being in the direct line of descent from an ancestor. Ex parent, grandparent, great grandparent...

I recently discovered my 7x great grandfather, Samuel Merrill, was a participant of the American Revolution as a Lieutenant in the 30th Regiment of Foot from Buxton, ME. I first learned of his involvement in the American Revolution from my Ancestry.com family tree. When viewing Samuel Merrill there was a leaf indicating a possible historical record match. When I reviewed the hint I was brought to an application to the DAR from 1909 with a Samuel Merrill listed as the Patriot in which the applicant was proving their lineal descent. The applicant was not from my direct line but had similar information so I decided to do a little digging to see if this was in fact the same Samuel Merrill I was researching.

To do this I focused on my direct line from Samuel Merrill to flush through and verify the information and sources I already had for these specific ancestors. I worked my way up the line, starting with myself going up 10 generations in my tree to Samuel. Feeling confident in my lineal descent from Samuel, I filled out a Member Interest form on the DAR website to get the ball rolling. This is simple form to notify DAR of your interest and get you connected to a local chapter to learn more about the application process.

A week or two later I received an email from the Brooklyn DAR Chapter with a genealogy worksheet for me to complete. The genealogy worksheet has blanks to fill in genealogical information about the ancestors in your direct line to connect the generations up to the Patriot. All of the information needs to supplemented with documented sources and you have to indicate what sources you have for the information you provide (vital records, census records, certificates, etc.). I thought I was pretty organized but I quickly found out how scattered my information was! If anything this process so far has really helped me organize, connect loose ends, and encourage me to learn more about these ancestors.

I've completed the worksheet and emailed it back to my contact. Hopefully I'll hear back soon! I hope I entered in the information correctly and thoroughly enough. Fingers crossed.