Category Archives: Misc Newspaper Articles

Remembering Freedom is not Free

Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day to honor those Americans lost during the Civil War, now honors and commemorates all American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Many Americans have forgotten, or perhaps they’ve never really known, what the true meaning of the day is for. Most will celebrate the three-day “holiday” weekend by starting their summer… days at the beach or camping out, BBQs and enjoying family and friends. Not once, will many of them even stop for a moment to reflect on the very reason they have the weekend to celebrate at all.

It seems that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s prediction in 1941 has come to pass, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men died to win them.”

Tonight, I walked around my local cemetery looking at the numerous headstones, which had been decorated with American flags for the weekend. Many of the flags had been knocked down due to the fierce storm we had the night before, so I spent time righting flags, saluting fallen comrades and thanking them for their service and sacrifice. It also made me wonder, why we decorated the final resting places of our military heroes only for the weekend? Why we don’t ensure that the American flag, the very one they pledged to support and the one, many died defending, is not permanently flown over their headstones?

As I walked between the rows of stones, drawn to those marked with flags, I stopped at each one I came across for a moment of quiet reflection. Not all had died in service of their country, but all had served and that was good enough for me. Young men, like SP4

RonaldSmith

SP4 Ronald Gordon Smith is buried in R.H. Munford Cemetery in Covington, TN

Ronald Gordon Smith, USARV, who was killed in Vietnam. He was 19 when he arrived in country on May 14, 1967, as a soldier with Co. A, 2nd BN, 1st Inf., 196th Infantry Brigade and celebrated his birthday a short 18 days later on the fields of the Republic of Vietnam. He drew his last breath at age 20 on Nov. 21, 1967 in a battle in the Quang Tin Province, six short months after arriving. He is remembered on panel 30E, line 60 on the Vietnam Wall and I came across this memory shared online on Memorial Day 1999 from one of his friends which shows he was very much loved and is missed, “Dearest Smitty, In three days you could have been 52 years old-as I am. You could have had a wife, children, and a dog-a whole and complete life. Instead you will always be 20 years old in my mind, driving a red Corvair, smiling and laughing. I still love you as my best high school friend. I think of you so often still and pray God’s blessings on you in heaven and on your family and friends left on earth. I love you, Judy.”

Since the dawn of our country, more than 42 million men and women have served to protect this great land of ours, and more than 1.3 million have died doing so. It seems the least we can do is spend a few moments reflecting on those who have given their lives in combat so that we can live ours in freedom.

As the years pass, it becomes easier to forget the person behind the name, and so it falls on our shoulders; the legacy holders – the parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends – to tell the story our soldiers can no longer tell. This Memorial Day, before you fire up the BBQ, take a moment to reflect on all of our fallen countrymen and women of all wars and the sacrifice they have made on our behalf and to remember that our freedom has never been free.

In Flanders Field
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields


Remembering 9/11 and Michael

It’s been 14 years since the attack on America on 9/11 and Michael’s death. All day, I’ve thought of him and every time I have heard Alan Jackson’s song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning” I’ve cried… so needless to say it’s not been a good day. Michael, you have NOT been forgotten and neither have the other amazing Americans and citizens of other freedom loving countries who were taken to soon by an act of cowardice. America has not forgotten and we swear… your sacrifice WILL NOT be in vain! Rest in Peace shipmate… until we meet again.

familyheirlooms

This is a story I wrote immediately after 9/11 and after learning that one of my co-workers, a friend who worked for me onboard USS WASP for three years, had been killed at the Pentagon.  I can’t tell you how that felt to get that phone call. I was on duty and we were watching it unfold on TV. We were scared because we knew that Mike was in the Pentagon that day and worried for his safety. I remember there being talk that out of that huge building and thousands of people being inside, why did Mike have to be one who died. We could hardly see the TV through the tears that were streaming down our faces, praying that he was okay and that the call was a mistake. But it wasn’t. Mike was gone and he wouldn’t have wished anyone else to have taken his place. He…

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It’s not my day… I’m not dead

Each year on the last Monday of May, Americans take a three-day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. Many spend the weekend grilling, camping or fishing and some head to the beach, but all are enjoying time spent with family and friends. It’s a great start to the summer season but that’s not the real reason we have the holiday weekend. Hopefully, in the midst of enjoying the weekend, we also take time to reflect on the true meaning of the federal holiday.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was a day set aside to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. Decoration Day began after the Civil War ended to honor those who gave their lives during our country’s bloodiest conflict, and was proclaimed, not by the president but by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

America has always given freely of its sons and daughters during its fight for freedom – whether it’s ours or another country’s. Between our first battle, the fight for independence in 1775, to today, May 24, 2015 and our current conflicts in support of the Global War on Terrorism, America has lost almost 1.3 million men and women on the battlefield. Those brave souls who have died in our country’s battles, are who we should be honoring and remembering today.

Fort_logan_national_cemetery_4All day I’ve been the recipient of gratitude and well-wishes – and although I am very grateful and honored that people have been thinking of me and my service to our nation – today’s not about me.

It’s not my day. I’m not dead.

Nor, is it about any other living military person or veteran…. our day is in November and it’s called Veterans Day.

Today is the day to honor our war dead. Those brave men and women, who while answering the call of their nation, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They are who Memorial Day is for.

Honor them.


Friday’s Faces From the Past: Searching for a lost child

familyheirlooms

Cabinet death card of a young childI came across this beautiful cabinet card in a local antique shop and was drawn to it. The picture is of a beautiful child who apparently died at a young age and his parents had a mourning card made. I could make out a very faint name written on the back – Robert – and I wondered if this was young Robert with the adorable curl on top of his head. I felt compelled to take him home. He didn’t belong in a cold antique shop among hundreds of  nameless lost ancestors. I wanted to find out more about him.

Upon closer examination, I discovered a very, very faint last name… Horne. The front of the picture has the name Forney and Bedford, Iowa which told me that the photographer of the picture was Forney and the picture was taken in Bedford, Iowa so I started searching Ancestry.com for…

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Wednesday’s Child – Papa’s Baby

familyheirlooms

IMG_2490

Today, I visited the remnants of an old plantation home located in the Town of Stanton in Haywood County, Tennessee. The site used to be the old home place of Joseph and Lucy Stanton, founders of the town. It is not the original home, as that was burnt down and a smaller home built in its place. Time has been rather kind to the home in the regard that it is still standing but it is evident that the home had not been lived in for many years.

Natural has begun to encroach upon the foundation of the home. Critters, various plants and trees have broken through the barrier long ago designated between nature and man. It is evident that the home was once a modest, yet grandeur home of the times, complete with a front porch that must have seen its share of visitors and family members, relaxing and…

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Support and Defend

Appropriate for today… God Bless our Veterans!

familyheirlooms

I come from a long line of veterans, both American and British, who have fought on both sides of the pond.

My sixth great-grandfather, Alexander Guard and his brothers and cousins fought for a young America during the Revolutionary War. My great-great Uncle Henry George Louis Panchaud or Harry as he was called, was a well-known and decorated colonel in the Boer War in South Africa.

During WWI, my great-great-uncle, Philip Archibald Tatem, was 24 years old when he left his home in Bermuda with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in France. He was killed on Sept. 25, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme after heavy fighting. His body was never identified, but he is honored on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in Somme, France. His younger brother, Graham Tatem, also served in WWI but fortunately did make it back to Bermuda. My paternal…

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Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews

This is NOT my work, but definitely worth sharing. It was posted by , a consultant, genealogist, writer, speaker, trainer and amateur radio operator… in other words, a man of all trades! You can find Lee’s blog, Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog, at http://www.leedrew.com/

Many folks are taking advantage of the FamilySearch initiative “Meet My Grandma.”

interviewThe initiative focuses on writing about memories of her, typically from the memory and experience of the writer.  It is a wonderful exercise that benefits not only the writer but the family and friends of ‘grandma’.

We should also write more in-depth histories about our ancestors.  Hopefully, we capture their memories, knowledge, sense of humor and sense of reality from their perspective.

A great way to uncover clues to your family history or to get great quotes for journaling in a heritage scrapbook is a family interview.  By asking the right, open-ended questions, you’re sure to collect a wealth of family tales. Use this list of family history interview questions to help you get started, but be sure to personalize the interview with your own questions as well.

  • What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
  • When and where were you born?
  • How did your family come to live there?
  • Were there other family members in the area? Who?
  • What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
  • Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • Describe the personalities of your family members.
  • What kind of games did you play growing up?
  • What was your favorite toy and why?
  • What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  • Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
  • Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  • What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
  • What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  • Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
  • Who were your childhood heroes?
  • What were your favorite songs and music?
  • Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?
  • What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
  • Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
  • Who were your friends when you were growing up?
    What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
  • Describe a typical family dinner.
  • Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
  • How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
  • How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
  • Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
  • What do you know about your family surname?
  • Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
  • What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
  • Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
  • Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  • What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
  • When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
  • What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
  • Where and when did you get married?
  • What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
  • How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
  • What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  • How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
  • Why did you choose your children’s names?
  • What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  • What did your family enjoy doing together?
  •  What was your profession and how did you choose it?
  • If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
  • Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
  • What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

Posted 27 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog


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