by Sonya Lavett
In honor of Veterans Day, it is important to remember our heroes, those who have proudly served and who continue to serve our country.
What is your family’s legacy?
This special day was recorded as the official end of WWI in 1918 when fighting among enemies ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Originally named Armistice Day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
At the time, WWI had been the largest war fought.
“It is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations,” Congress stated in 1926.
After WWII, which was even larger than WWI, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the help of legislature, exchanged the word “Armistice” for the word “Veterans.” On June 1, 1954, declarations were signed to make November 11th the official day to honor American veterans of all wars.
While WWI and even WWII may literally seem like a lifetime away from where we are today, many of us have family members who are proud veterans and have served in subsequent wars. Perhaps you have a loved one who is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces right now.
Veterans Day is our chance to thank them for the sacrifices they have made for their country and for their families.
My grandfather, Anon B. Bosworth, registered to fight with the Allies during World War II. He was barely 19 at the time and had probably never travelled outside his home state of Alabama. Before the end of the war, my grandfather would come home a hero, earning two bronze stars for bravery and courage.
I remember being a child and listening to his stories of single-handedly capturing Germans and handing them over to friendly troops after confiscating their weapons. I held a German Luger in my hands, thinking this was held by our past enemies and very likely something that ended the lives of American soldiers. WWII was before my time, but I believe we all carry these collective experiences with us. Every time we share the stories of our veteran family members with one another, we continue the story in some way. Our children and their children should know what their ancestors did to sustain our way of life in the U.S.
In writing this article, it occurred to me just how much I am not aware of what my grandfather and his father sacrificed and felt compelled to do in the name of protecting our future freedoms. Freedoms for children living today who would never know their great-grandfathers (or great-grandmothers). So, I started researching my family history and building my family tree through ancestory.com. My daughter has been asking about this for the past month or so and I am fairly certain that her brother will also be interested in becoming part of the telling of our story.
What a great way for us to discover our heritage together, because our family’s story is our story, too.
You may not have all of the answers to your family history, but I do believe each of us has a history that is worthy of being remembered and passed down. On Veterans Day, this is a momentous opportunity to open the door to these conversations with our families.
Do you know your family’s history? Let the stories commence.
Thank you to all of our past heroes and those who continue to guard us, fight for us, and who still believe that this is the greatest country in the world.