Armed Forces Day a time to remember your family history

Find your World War II patriot ancestors

My children and I have the privilege to march in the Armed Forces Day Parade in our town.  What a wonderful way to honor the service members in our community.

Who fought in World War II in your family?

It's interesting researching my grandparents during the World War II era. My maternal grandfather served 3 1/2 years in Panama Canal Zone and met my grandmother at a New Years Eve party, marrying 6 days later before returning to Panama from his leave for 6 more months of duty.  Yet for 3 1/2 years of service, I have precious few rememberances that he shared with my mother and just a couple of pictures.  This was partially a family thing; they just didn't talk about much about family members or events in the past.  But having talked with other World War II veterans, keeping quiet about their duties was a common trait.  Sure, there are plenty of fiction and non-fiction stories out there but for the most part service men and women didn't talk about their roles in the war. 

Tell their story

TurtleTrove can help you tell that story.  First and foremost, talk to them!  Today's electronic devices can create excellent digital recordings and videos.  My iPad is wonderful at doing this. While it's important to jot notes while interviewing, those should mostly be to remind your self to ask follow on questions and not what the person your interviewing is saying.  Stay in the moment and keep the conversation moving forward!

If your World War II patriot has already passed through the pearly gates, find other veterans who had similar service or knew your family member and interview them.  Also consider going to the National Archives for their digital recordings.  Anyone can record a digital memory but more important, you can listen to recordings in the comfort of your home about people's experiences.  The National Archives digital vault is fully searchable with thousands of recordings. 

The treasure in the trunk

Next, scan the local papers and your family books for hints about what was important to them. My grandmother was a prolific scrapbooker from high school on.  It's interesting to see what was important to her.  There are many articles about my mother and her speed boat racing...and the many wins. Combining the information I glean from the scrapbooks, I have a much more complete conversation with my mom...all recorded of course! 

It seems like I find new things every time I go through my family trunks.  Different things have more meaning based on current research and writing.  Remember to save some of the important things from your life as well.  Were you a girl scout or boy scout?  Did you live in an exotic place and have some children's clothing you can preserve?  Keep the story with the item so that it doesn't get lost. And probably just as important, keep a list of those family heirlooms for both insurance and will purposes.  Make sure you decide who will get what early and that they know it.  It will ensure that your family heirlooms continue to serve your family ancestry history.

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