Tag Archives: WWII

Support and Defend

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.

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The power of the press

I get so excited when I come across what I call genealogical “hidden gems.” Old newspapers, correspondence and letters from long ago, family pictures with identifying info, receipts, logs and family Bibles all help us to understand the trials and tribulations our forefathers went through so that we can be where we are today. Today, while exploring the Ned R. McWherter Library at the University of Memphis for the first time, I discovered a virtual gold mine – their microfilm library is amazing! Not only do they have federal census records going back to the 1790s, they have films of various newspapers from across the country, Letters and correspondence from the Secretary of the Navy and the War Department during WWI and WWII. There are even Prisoner of War correspondence for the first world war. There are documents on Nazi Germany, letters from U.S. presidents, correspondence and files from the NAACP and CORE organizations. And let’s not forget the FBI files on Martin Luther King, Jr.! This list doesn’t even begin to cover their extensive holdings. One title I was surprised to find was several microfilms on African American newspapers from the 1930s.

The newspaper I found was called the Afro American and it published out of Washington D.C. I’m not sure of when it began but the issue I found listed on its masthead that it was its 41st year. It ended about 1937.

I guess the reason I was so surprised is I never considered the notion that African Americans had newspapers at that point in history which solely catered to African Americans. I know, as a genealogist that’s a pretty lame attitude to have, and perhaps, well okay, definitely a whole lot of naivety on my part.

Since the first newspaper or rather news pamphlet was published in the late 1400s in Germany, the power of the press has been one to reckon with. It was a way for the people to pass information back and forth. Merchants used it to talk about their goods, governments used it to reach the general population, people used it to discuss social customs and items of human interest.

The London Gazette

The London Gazette

One such paper, the London Gazette, began its publication on Nov. 7, 1665 and is reportedly, the world’s oldest, continuously printed newspaper. Today, it is still published daily. Here in American, Boston saw the birth of the first newspaper in 1690. That first publication was called the Publick Occurrences (sic). It was immediately shut down, its publisher arrested and all copies supposedly destroyed because it was published without authority. I guess they didn’t understand freedom of the press back then. Its history remained hidden until the only known surviving copy was discovered in the British Library in 1845. Since that first paper came on scene bringing American into the fourth estate, newspapers have been telling the story of America.

And so it was also with African American run papers.

What I’ve actually learned today is African Americans have had their own newspapers since the mid-1800s. The Elevator out of San Francisco, the Colored American in Washington D.C. and the Freeman in Indianapolis, Ind., and others have all played a part in telling the story of a too often silent or rather, silenced history. Catering to their audience the same as their white counterparts, these trail blazers told the story white Americans did not want to hear. The stories about what was going on in African American neighborhoods – the celebrations of life, the beginnings of entrepreneurship, the recordings of African American history and the injustices suffered.

I hope you enjoy perusing this copy of the Sept. 3, 1932 edition of the Afro American. I’ll be examining a few of the stories a bit more in depth to learn what happened to the lives portrayed so long ago. Look for those stories soon.

If you are interested in learning more about African American newspapers and the role they played in America’s history, check out your local universities and colleges. You might be surprised at what’s hidden there.


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