I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I have a broken wrist and was tempted to use that as an excuse not to post. But it’s Memorial Day, and I’ve been thinking about those who served our country, past and present.
I always think about my great-grandfather, Joshua Bair, who served three Civil War enlistments, the longest in Co. L of the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. He survived Andersonville Prison, and his fortitude is a constant inspiration in my life. His two brothers, John Bair and Robert Bair, also served. Robert didn’t come home. He was only a teenager, and no doubt scared and homesick, when he died of starvation as a prisoner of war in Salisbury, North Carolina. His sacrifice had been lost to our family’s collective memory until I began researching my family history. He won’t be forgotten again.
I also think of my sister’s father, George E. McFall, who died during WWII. He was on the J.W. McAndrew Troop ship in a convoy heading to France when the hold where he was sleeping was hit by the French Aircraft Carrier Bearn. The Bearn had engine trouble and swerved off course. In that moment, my mother’s and sister’s lives were changed forever. He won’t be forgotten.
This year I am also remembering “my soldiers” – the men who are missing from the Korean War whose families I have researched. I work to locate the next-of-kin and DNA family reference sample donors as a very small piece of JPAC‘s efforts to repatriate missing soldiers. As I have pieced together their family trees, my heart aches that they couldn’t have lived to attend their mother’s funeral, or meet the sibling or niece or nephew born after they were gone. They made the ultimate sacrifice and their families never had the small comfort and closure of a funeral. I hope that my research can help bring a measure of that closure to their families now, and they won’t be forgotten.
Finally, today I am also remembering my Dad, Cpl. Hugo C. Becker. He served in the 879 Aero Squadron near the end of WWI. Thankfully the war ended before he was sent overseas. This spring I visited his New Jersey grave for the first time since I was a child. Today I posted a flag on his memorial page on FindaGrave. Thank you for your service, Dad. I haven’t forgotten.
Who will you never forget?
A very well written blog. Honoring sacrifice, courage, heroism, and well lived lives. Your forensic work also honors the lives of those who sacrificed, and I’m sure does bring closure for the loved ones.