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Recognizing a Family’s History of Military Service

Memorial Day weekend approaches. Not much goes on in Colorado to mark this solemn day. Instead, people use it to kick off the summer season with camping and backyard barbecues.

We prefer to spend the day remembering fallen soldiers and all those who have sacrificed to serve in our country’s military. My family came to the New World in the Great Migration of the 1630’s so we have had ample opportunity to serve in our nation’s wars. In my genealogical research I have identified these from my direct line:

  • Revolutionary War: Gershom Hall of Massachusetts, John Day and Robert Kirkham of Virginia
  • War of 1812: Benjamin E. Dunbar of Massachusetts
  • Creek War: John Carter of Tennessee
  • Civil War: Samuel H. Reed of Illinois and Thomas Sherman of Kentucky
  • World War II: my Dad
  • War on Terror in Afghanistan: my son—a West Point graduate and Bronze Star recipient

I am thankful that none of these brave men suffered injury or loss of life in these wars. We have collateral relatives who did, including Anderson Sherman who suffered from unspecified injuries during the Civil War. Thomas Aaron Reed was gassed in the trenches of World War I. Harold Reed never recovered from the shell shock sustained in the Korean War.

This weekend my Dad and I will visit the grave of another brave veteran, his late brother Staff Sergeant Robert Lloyd Reed, buried at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver. Uncle Bob served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and later in the Air Force in Korea and Vietnam.

My daughter-in-law, an Army veteran herself, wants her children to know and appreciate why we commemorate Memorial Day. Maybe they will come along with us. Whether they do or not, I am glad that my grandchildren will understand that the day stands for more than the first day of summer vacation.

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