Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May is for Memories

Springtime: a time for growth, fresh ideas and projects. Springtime in the air energizes and encourages. It makes us look forward to the new.

The May calendar doesn’t bear that out, though. Mother’s Day, a time designated to honor each one’s mother, leaves many remembering a woman long gone. Following on the heels of that is our country’s designation of Peace Officers Memorial Day, and National Police Week—a time to remember those whose service heroically ended in the ultimate sacrifice. And the month ends in our Memorial Day weekend, once again commemorating the selfless service of others, this time to country.

Ironically, two of these three designated dates got their impetus from the aftermath of the Civil War, a struggle none of us here today ever lived through.

Our commemorations serve to recall people whose sacrifices told the story of what was important to them.

In addition to the ceremonies we publicly participate in, we can remember those in our own heritage who have served in these capacities, be they Civil War soldiers, veterans of more recent conflicts, law enforcement officers, or each one of our mothers, grandmothers, and family pioneer women.

There are so many tools to help find records of relatives’ service. A basic, free readout of many online sources for this is called Cyndi’s List. There are several other online lists for veterans of war. Another database accesses information on slain law enforcement officers from 1791 to the present, though there are many other sites, often listed by state, that are on the internet.

Of course, that’s for names that your family already knows. If you are just starting your research, keep these links handy. Chipping away at that mysterious unknown chunk of your family history may soon reveal stories you hadn’t heard before. Those are stories that need to take their place in your family’s May remembrances, too.

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