I come from a long line of veterans, both American and British, who have fought on both sides of the pond.
My seventh great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gard and his sons, including my sixth great-grandfather, Alexander Guard and his 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. My Great-great-great-great Uncle, William L. Guard was a Captain in the Mexican-American War.
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 great-grandfather also served during WWI as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, as well as his older brother, Albert Louis Panchaud, who served as a chaplain in the British Army.
My maternal grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II in Germany for more than a year, while my paternal grandfather guarded German prisoners of war sent to Bermuda. My uncle Larry fought in Vietnam and my brother, Brian, served in Iraq during Desert Storm and he once again finds himself in Iraq today. I served almost 23 years in the United States Navy retiring as a Chief Petty Officer and my husband was a career Marine, giving more than 21 years to the Corps, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. Today, my oldest son carries on the family tradition and currently serves as a member of the Tennessee National Guard.
Earlier last year, I received a sobering comment from my brother on Facebook. He said, “I believe hell is empty, as pure evil walks the earth here in Iraq.” But even with that knowledge, he truly believes in what he and his unit are doing to help the Iraqi people.
I am proud of my family’s contributions to our great nation and to the countries they have called home. They have all I am also proud of those whom I call friend and those I don’t know personally. Without their sacrifice, I would not be living the life I have today.