Saturday, November 01, 2008


From: Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library
No. 56, October 31, 2008

Honoring Our Veterans
by Curt B. Witcher

"Every generation, the possibility . . ." Likely some of you have heard me use that phrase in relationship to the military engagements of this country and the records those engagements have generated. In a few days we will have another opportunity to take at least a few moments to honor our veterans, past and present. I would like to challenge you to "go tangible" this year in honoring our veterans. Truly honor our current veterans and our ancestors who were veterans by really doing something.

For veterans in your family today, take a few minutes to write them a note or a letter, or create a personal memento. In our technology-filled world of email, IM, text messaging, and social networks, hand-written letters or personally crafted mementos mean more than ever. And it certainly demonstrates you cared enough to take some time to do something out of the ordinary--it shows how deeply you care. Mementos can be as simple as taking a copy of an enlistment photograph or other personal document and mounting it on acid free scrapbook paper while "framing" it with red, white, and blue ribbon or sparkles--all things you can find in the scrapbooking section of discount stores, at online scrapbooking sites, and in scrapbooking outlet stores in nearly every community.

For those who do not have a living veteran in their immediate family, certainly you know someone in your neighborhood, at your church, or at work who has a veteran in their family. A note or card of thanks to them would mean more than you might think, as would a freshly baked pumpkin pie at their Thanksgiving dinner table. And the same kind of memento you could craft for a family member also might be crafted for a neighbor or friend's family member.

For those who may not yet know if they have an ancestor who served in the military but want to do something tangible, you can create a manageable preservation project that may only take an hour or so to do. Such a preservation project could be locating a small to modest-sized local cemetery. Grab your digital camera and walk through that cemetery taking a digital image of every military tombstone. It might be neat to take along a child or grandchild, pointing out the different wars, ranks, and other tombstone art and markers. It could be one of the most wonderful learning experiences of that young person's life. And in addition, you will have helped preserve that data for researchers to use.

Finally, as part of a plan to "go tangible," I am asking that everyone reading this ezine digitize a military document, a photograph of a soldier, or other military artifact in your collection and preserve it for future generations of researchers by sending a digital copy to our Genealogy Center to post on the "Our Military Heritage" website. Since we launched that website in February of this year, more than twenty thousand images have been made available in various formats for researchers to use. We'd like to see that number grow as we strive to provide the maximum amount of free, useful data to assist those doing military history research as a part of their family history projects.

Before you send us the image, practice the "reporter's trade" of answering the questions of who, what, when, and where. Example: Samuel B. Franklin, service record cards, Civil War, served from New York; or, Arthur Jenkins, photograph, 1944, Fort Benning, GA. Send that descriptive information to us as well. If the image and associated data is less than one megabyte, you can send it to me as an email attachment. If it is a larger file, send me a disk at ACPL Genealogy Center, Box 2270, Fort Wayne, IN, 46801-2270. And if you've walked that small to modest-sized cemetery with your child or grandchild, go ahead and send us a CD of the images you've captured with permission to post them online. Your entire family will be proud of the tangible effort you've made to honor our military--those who are serving now and those who sacrificed before them.

This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.

To subscribe to "Genealogy Gems," simply use your browser to go to the website: www.GenealogyCenter.Info. Scroll down toward the bottom of the first screen where it says, "Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to "Genealogy Gems." Enter your email address in the yellow box and click on "Subscribe." You will be notified with a confirmation email.

Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors

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