Veterans Day means a lot to me. As a kid, I always thought of it as a special day for my Dad, not because of him, just for him. He was in the Navy after all. It also means that my heart goes out to all who are currently defending our country who are on active duty. I may not agree with the politics of invading Iraq nor staying there, but that doesn't mean I don't support our troups who are fighting it.
As it turns out, I seem to come from quite a few men who have served in the military. I should say women also, because if you are married to a military man, you are married to the military as well.
The first 'documented' ancestor who served our country did it through furnishing a cow to the men who were fighting in the American Revolution. I am eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution through this cow. This ancestor was the immigrant, Hans Adam Biebel (Bible), and he lived in Rockingham County, Virginia at the time.
I have an ancestor who fought during the "Indian Wars." To clarify there were a lot of "Indian Wars" in this country, but this particular one led up to the removal of the Cherokees to what is now Oklahoma on the infamous "Trail of Tears." Riley spent a whole 2 months in the local militia, waiting around to be deployed. Don't know the whole story, but for some reason that is all they did was wait around. However, this little stint was enough for him to apply for Veteran's Benefits around 1890. If he had not, I would still be looking for him today. His military package of papers I received from NARA was at least 1/2 inch thick and contained a wealth of information. However, I still don't know who his parents and siblings are, one of my brickwalls.
Whatever you call the era between 1861 and 1865 (The Civil War, The American Civil War, The War Between the States, War of the Rebellion, War for Southern Independence, War of Northern Aggression, et al), everyone seems to agree that this is one of the most horrific wars on our own shores. This war pitted brother against brother and split families in two.
Five of my direct ancestors (and many more uncles and cousins) fought in this war. Direct ancestors didn't pass on, but uncles and cousins did. One of my ancestors caught measles and had complications from that malady for the rest of his life. Another had toes shot off, and was captured by the enemy at Fort Fisher, NC. He spent some time in the infamous Port Lookout, MD, POW camp. Another signed up in the CSA at almost 40 years of age, just to have income to feed his family. Another was a Captain in the CSA.
The picture to the right, however, I do cherish as it is taken during that time period. It is a painted tin-type and I have it under lock and key and out of bright lights. His name is Elisha Albert Frank and he was a bugler with Co. B 8th TN Cavalry (USA) and a PVT.
I also have a photo copy of a letter he wrote to his wife while he was away from home fighting the rebs. Check out the transcription.
Apparently these folks hold no grudges. The Captain mentioned above had a daughter. This daughter married the soldier who caught the measles while at war. He was a union soldier. Always wondered how family dinners might have turned out.
Although my great grandfathers filled in WWI draft cards, they were either too young or too old to see any action. Again, I do have uncles and cousins who joined up, fought and died in the "War to end all Wars."
World War II flared up, only to find the timing not really right for my grandfathers. One passed away a month before Pearl Harbor, my Dad was all of 15. The rest were over the age limit. My dad's brother did join the Navy and he saw time in the Pacific. No one could ever get him to talk about his experiences. From what we do know is that he was a boatswain mate and he was with the landing ships that put soldiers and marines on shore (but don't know which island). He always had a love of life and enjoyed it to the fullest. He must have seen some horrible things in the Pacific. When my father was old enough, he also joined the Navy. However, by the time he got through boot camp and some schools, the war was over. He never saw any action.
Now this you may find strange tho. When someone mentions Veteran's Day, my first thought is that I need to get an anniversary card off to a long time friend and his wife. We've known each other for over 40+ years. We lost track of each other for over 20 years, and through what I learned on how to trace people with genealogy I was finally able to locate him again. They were so surprised to receive an anniversary card the year we reunited. They couldn't believe I remembered their wedding day . . . .hey, a service man (he was in the Navy) who marries on Veteran's Day will always have an anniversary I will remember.
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