By Connie Lenzen
An article written for the 6 November 2003 issue of the Vancouver Columbian newspaper.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice was signed to end the war that we call World War I. This was a war fought with "modern"weapons, including poison gases.
In 1926, Congress set aside November 11th as Armistice Day. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming the day as Veterans Day, a day to celebrate all veterans, both living and dead.
I intend to spend part of Veteran's Day thinking about the members of our armed forces who are serving abroad and at home. I will spend another part of the day in looking for records on my veteran ancestors.
Federal and State documents were created around our ancestors who fought in American wars. These include enlistment forms, muster rolls, medical records, discharge certificates, and pension applications. These documents can both enrich our family genealogy and serve as a memorial to the sacrifices that our veterans made.
James Neagles'U.S. Military Records is a guide to documents from colonial times to the present. The book is found in most large libraries and is available for purchase at bookstores.
Most of the military records that contain information about our ancestors is located in the National Archives. A nice article that explains what's there, is found on the Archive's website, http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/fall/military-records-overview.html.
The National World War II Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to all veterans of World War II. Citizens can enroll members of their family who participated in the war effort. The website is at http://www.wwiimemorial.com/. Their address is National World War II Memorial, 2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 501, Arlington, VA 22201.
My daughter has enrolled two of my uncles and two aunts on this site. The uncles were in the Army. One was missing in action and found. One aunt served as a nurse, and the other served in the U.S. Coast Guard. My relatives were ordinary citizens doing what was expected of them. It brings tears to my eyes when I see their names listed. I am grateful there is a way to memorialize them and their service.
CG, Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified genealogists after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.