November 30th, 2010 at 5:46 pm (Articles)
A month ago my Mom received a call from a distant cousin’s family, informing her that our cousin Ronnie had died. We had heard the he was very sick, but had no idea how bad he was. His wife had informed my mom that one of Ronnie’s last wishes was that his stepfather’s family things should go to her. She said she felt odd about accepting whatever she was about to send, but she would take them.
None of us had any idea what they had, so of course she was wondering what and when it would come. About four weeks after the call the package came. Mom asked me to come to the house and open it with her. The things had belonged to my great-uncle Wilson. He had been a very special man to our family, so this was sure to be a very emotional day.
Once the box was opened we were very surprised. Inside was my Uncle Wilson’s, uniform hats from World War II, some insignias, a pen and pencil set, and a few miscellaneous extras. Under all of this was two blue velvet boxes and as we opened them we saw that they had been for his older brother Howard who had been killed in action in Germany. We had never known Uncle Howard of course; he had died before I was born. There before us was one purple star and one silver star, along with the dog-tag that was on Uncle Howard when he died so long ago. It took our breath away.
For my mom and I, this was a very humbling experience. We had never seen these before and it was totally unexpected that we both felt so in awe. This man, Uncle Howard, was killed in Germany, not 20 miles from where his father was born. The family had immigrated to the United States when my great-grand father was just very young. Uncle Howard never knew the family in Germany only by letters. His parents lived in Wyoming and raised 11 children. All of the boys that were of age enlisted and went off to war to fight the German’s, possibly their own cousins. Profound.
Now my work begins. I want to know more about Uncle Howard and his military service. It will take a bit of time and effort of course, but I think I will be very much worth my investment. Also this should spur me on to take the time to research more of our family and their military records and if lucky, so great war stories.
I hope you will also take the time to research your family members and their military records. Holding a purple heart in my hands so how seemed to bring it all forward and made it so very real. I hope you and your family will find this to be true for your family as well.