Memorial Day, 2013

As I presume you’re all aware, most of us have one father, two grandfathers, four great-grandfathers, and eight great-great-grandfathers. The farther back in time you go the more likely it is that the progression will grow more slowly than exponentially but that’s a subject for another time.

I wasn’t good enough for military service—I was called up but rejected. I think I’ve told the story before but my dad tried multiple times to enlist during World War II but was turned down by every branch of the service plus the FBI.

Neither of my grandfathers served in World War I. They were both too old. Neither of them served in the Spanish-American War, either. Indeed, you have to go back to the American Civil War before you find anyone in my direct ancestral line who saw military service. Three of my great-great-grandfathers served in the Union Army. My great-great-grandfather Schuler, presumably, was in the Swiss army but he emigrated to the United States in 1865. I just don’t know about the other four. I suspect they never served in the U. S. military.

My mom’s Uncle Ed was one of the happy few who volunteered for and served in World War II and was called up both for Korea and Viet Nam. Thanks, Ed.

My wife’s father and her maternal uncles all served in the Navy in World War II, her father as a radioman onboard a battleship and her uncles in submarines. Her maternal grandfather served in World War I, also in submarines.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, a day in which the graves of the Union Army dead were decorated. Over time it has transmogrified into a day in which we commemorate all who served (that would actually be Veteran’s Day, once Armistice Day) but, particularly, those who gave their lives. My family has been fortunate in that we have no war dead. That is, in part, because others served and even gave their lives and we’re grateful for that.

3 comments… add one
  • steve

    I remember my cousin who helped inspire my decision to join. Multiple tours in Vietnam. Was never quite the same after. Developed alcohol problems and died in a car crash. A few years after he got out. Some people just end up broken after wars and never really get back to normal. His name is not on the wall, nor are any of the others like him. We forget about those who don’t actually die during the war.

    Steve

  • How incredible that you know your family history going back that far. European wars and dislocations mean that my family history, especially on my father’s side, is lost in the past.

  • That’s just scratching the surface. I can trace my Swiss ancestry back to the 14th century. If my distant cousin Ansgwerd is to be believed, back to the 9th century.

    That’s another way in which my family is atypical. We’ve maintained some level of contact with the Swiss Schulers over the years.

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