Tag Archives: Veteran’s Day

November Means Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

Jillian here. Sorry this will be a long post! It’s November and since this is the month we remember our veterans—on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, I thought I’d share some tidbits about the veterans in my own family.

My Revolutionary War ancestor was Thomas Gresham (yes, my U.K. friends, I am related to Sir John and Sir Thomas Gresham—perhaps you’ve heard of them 😁 but that’s a story for another day). One of the later generation younger sons came to the colonies in 1690. By the time of the Revolution, we’d been here long enough to become attached to this place and my five- times great grandfather enlisted in Washington’s Army at the tender age of 15. He survived that long, freezing, brutal winter at Valley Forge (got sick and lost some wages as was too ill to fight for a bit) and also survived the war- thank goodness he did or you wouldn’t be reading this post!  🙂 When I think of what I was doing at age 15, my admiration grows for this young man and all the others who stood with him.

My great uncle, William Eugene Fowler died at the Battle of the Bulge and is buried in one of the American cemeteries in Belgium. He was an army sergeant and died while in battle, but not before saving five of his men and pulling them to safety. My dad, who was a tot at the time, as he was born in 1940, loved his Uncle Eugene. My great grandmother had a portrait of him in a massive oval frame with one of those bubble glass fronts. My dad would carry that thing around even though it was as tall as him. Thinking about the sacrifice Uncle Eugene made—saving others— without regard to his own safety, makes me proud to be related to such a brave man.

My dad enlisted in the Navy when he was still in high school and left for boot camp a few days after he graduated. He was already engaged to my mom. His mom and dad moved from their farm into town while he was gone and he didn’t know where they lived when he got back. And my grandmother had gotten rid of all his civilian clothes as she thought he’d always be in uniform and wouldn’t need them. 😁 —he served during the Vietnam era and volunteered to go over, but he wasn’t allowed as he was a weapons instructor and was needed stateside to train the young me who would go. He’s always felt a little like he cheated by staying in the USA. This is him below:

His younger brother, Robert, always wanted to be in the Air Force. He was a fun person and a real ladies man. I remember him well even though he died when I was almost six. He injured himself in boot camp and was told he was going to be shipped home as his back injury was so bad, he wouldn’t be able to serve. Despondent that he’d never have the life he’d always dreamed of, and with no loved ones near to help him, he took his own life. It was terrible and so sad. My dad was the one who had to tell his father as the Navy commander was contacted by the Air Force as they had the records that Dad was his brother. The commander called my dad into his office and told him.  My poor dad had to make that terrible phone call to his father. My grandmother was never the same. Her bible, at her death, had so many notes in it where she was praying on paper for understanding of the death of her fourth son. I share this to say I don’t consider my uncle a coward. I consider the pressure he was under and the loss of his lifelong dream as the impetus for his actions. If only there had been the kinds of services we have now for counseling back then, I think he’d still be here.

And lastly, my nephew, Kyle ____ (his middle name is Eugene), who is very much like my Uncle Robert, charming, fun and a ladies man (they even look similar), is currently serving in the Air Force. It’s like we’ve come full circle with him and my uncle. Kyle is following Robert’s dream. Maybe not exactly the same exact dream, and we hope the ending isn’t the same, but I do find it comforting that Kyle found his own path, that included military service, and has been following it for more than 12 years now.

What about you? Any stories to share about loved ones who served in your branches of the armed forces?

Welcome to My November

Jillian here. I hate to say my life is dull compared to some of you. Laurie with her cider making, Jane with her bike/car adventures, Lavada with her hidden state treasures visits, Kit’s gardening and Tricia’s trip all sound so much fun. I’m here trudging along with the day to day grind. Working the day job and writing on a new story for NaNoWriMo on my lunch hour and at home in the evenings. I was supposed to go to New York City in October but my traveling companion had an emergency arise with her mother in law so we postponed.

My older son is in for a visit this weekend so that’s a very nice thing. He’s always a pleasure to be around. We both have long been Liverpool football fans and usually both watch the matches and text each other while they are being played. This week, at 6:30 am central time, we’ll be up and watching in the same room for the first time in ages. Looking forward to it.

I have a new Christmas anthology out that was a lot of fun to write. I am working on this NaNo story that’s a pretty heavy subject matter and is much slower going as the level of angst is pretty deep. My inspiration for the story is the true experiences of Oney Judge. She was a slave owned by George Washington. She escaped and he never freed her -even after his death, so she technically died a slave even though she’d been living in a free state for years at the time she passed away.

The law in Pennsylvania at the time George was president was that if a slave lived there for six months, that slave became free. A lot of owners removed their slaves just before the time ran—even for a day or two—as that act would start the six months running again. George did the same thing.  It was a shameful time in our history and I’m tackling it in this story. It’s clearly not a romance though she does eventually find happiness as the true life lady did. It’s difficult to write how the slaves were treated as less than human. I can only hope I’m doing them justice.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. And bless the families who lost loved ones in WWI as we come up on Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Would that their sacrifices in the War to end all Wars had been true.

My Grandfather

picgpaToday is Veteran’s Day. First and foremost, I’d like to extend a hearty thank you to every man, woman, and animal who has worked to keep us safe, both in our home towns and in other countries.

I thought I’d chat a bit about my Grandfather. I never got the chance to know him, as he died when I was about six months old. But Mom’s stories helped me know the kind of man he was.  He served in the Army for only about a year, being discharged due to “service no longer required”. WWI had ended. In fact, he got to France right around the day the Armistice was signed, so he didn’t have to fight, which I am personally glad for.

His discharge record says his character was “excellent” and his service was “honest and faithful.” I wonder, do they still list things like that on service records these days?  Grampa was a recipient of the WWI Victory Medal, given to all persons who served active duty overseas during the war. I used to love to get it out and stare at it when I was a kid. My mom still has that medal. 🙂

Beyond the war, though, Mom always said Grampa was a quiet man, except when it came to his mischievous sense of humor.  For example, he was driving home in one car while his brother was in the other one. Grampa took a different route and his brother never could figure out how Grampa made it home first. I gather Grampa never explained, either. He was always teasing the kids, too. One cousin of Mom’s still remember Grampa telling her Santa Claus fell off our roof. Hmmm. I guess that could have been pretty traumatic depending on her age at the time, which I’m not sure of.

Grampa  wasn’t demonstrative, so when he hugged you, it meant something, like when his mother died and my mom was crying. To this day, she remembers him putting his arms around her and comforting her.

He spent most of his post-war career working in sawmills, and a lot of that as a head sawyer. That’s the person who decides the best way to cut a log, to get the most out of it. The whole thing sounds pretty complicated to me, and I’ve seen a sawmill in action (compliments of my husband, the steam-mill, and steam-train freak). 🙂

One of eleven children, Mom calls him an “all around good guy.”  He loved his family, and his wife, and, in fact, passed away a short ten months after my Gramma. So I never really got to know him, except through Mom’s eyes. I’m grateful she’s shared stories of him with us. I think it’s important to remember where we come from. It helps guide us in deciding where we are going, right?

How about you? Do you have grandparent or veteran stories? We’d love to hear them.

Have a safe and peace-filled Veteran’s Day!