Memorial Day: Honoring My Military Roots

Photo provided by Andrew Beierle & freeimages.com

Photo provided by Andrew Beierle & freeimages.com

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree. ~Thomas Campbell”

For Memorial Day, I wanted to write a blog post about my family’s military history. It’s a long one. My love of genealogy has helped me unearth documents chronicling the military careers of many, many ancestors.

When I sat down to write this post I realized there was no way I could name everyone that deserves to be mentioned. Somehow that doesn’t seem right. Not a single one of them deserve to be overlooked or worse … forgotten.

From the American Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan members from all branches of my family have fought. I can’t pretend to know why they chose to enlist. Were they impassioned by a cause? Did they feel a sense of responsibility? Was it for love of their country? Was it because they saw evil and wanted to vanquish it?

Relatives have seen war up close and personal. Some died at the hands of enemies. War is not pretty. It’s not glorious. It’s not something we wish for. But there will always be those that seek war as a tool to gain power, to oppress and change culture to their liking.

I feel a sense of pride for the military members of my family, past and present. They fought others for their freedom. They fought each other to maintain their way of life. They’ve fought for allies who were oppressed. They have liberated others, at times with great cost to themselves.

I thank God for the people willing to walk into a war zone to protect our freedom. At this time only .45% of the American population is in the military. That miniscule but mighty demographic stands between us and those who wish us harm. Today I honor my military ancestors, friends and strangers not by mentioning their names but by remembering that freedom isn’t free.

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower