I remember, as a kid, watching my dad toss the burgers and dogs on the grill for Memorial Day.  I never really thought about what Memorial Day was really about.  It was a time for the family to have that first BBQ of the summer…a day off from school (WOO HOO!)…and a parade downtown that caused frustration for people trying to get to the store.  I know better now.

As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into my family tree (and the trees of my friends that I’m researching for) I have really begun to appreciate the service men and women that have sacrificed so much for me and our entire country.  I have a lot of Veterans in my family…dating back to the early 1900’s when they all arrived in the United States from all over Europe.  It was finding their Draft Registration Cards, military records, photos, and other memorabilia from the wars they fought in that truly made me understand and appreciate their service to this country….a country that was new to a lot of them.

I’ve marched in a lot of Memorial Day parades, heard Taps played many times, and watched wreath laying ceremonies at the local cemeteries.  I’ve even helped at a few of the ceremonies.  But this year I felt like I needed to bring this holiday to a little higher awareness with my family, friends and followers of this blog.

So…do you know who the veterans are in your family tree?  Are there veterans that you’ve found that you never realized gave service to this country?  Do you have any idea what branch of the military they served in?  Well…In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Ancestry.com has given free access to it’s military documents and I plan to take full advantage of their generosity (here’s the link to their collections:  http://www.ancestry.com/cs/us/family-military?o_iid=55619&o_lid=55619&o_sch=Web+Property ).  I’m focusing on the Veterans in my family lines and those of the other trees I’m working on, while these documents are easily accessible.  I want to search beyond the relatives that I know served this country.  I want to search for cousins, aunts, uncles….Maybe just searching thru the surnames of my family can help me piece together another part of my family story.

So this year…instead of just tossing some burgers on the grill and having a BBQ with your family, why not sit down to those wonderful burgers and talk about those members of your family that gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country.  You might just hear a story that you’ve never heard before…and be sure to check out Ancestry.com for another part of the story.

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