Remembrance Day: Remembering the military service of our ancestors

Remembrance Day is an important day to reflect on those who serve our country, past and present.

Those of us who do genealogy remember our “relatives of yesteryear” all year long, including those ancestors who have done military service. Remembering ancestors who served in the military in previous centuries is as important as remembering more recent military ancestors. How much do you know about your ancestors from previous generations – previous centuries – who served in the military?

My ancestors include two who served in the U.S. Revolutionary War (I am eligible to join the Daughters of the Revolution) and two ancestors (a father and son) who served in the Illinois Infantry for the Union Army during the U.S. civil war. One of my great-great grandfathers was a Private in the 106th Illinois Infantry (enrolled at age 18), while his father – my great-great-great grandfather – served as a 1st Lieutenant in the 14th Illinois Cavalry.

Image: my great-great grandfather’s application for his military pension for having served in teh Illinois Infantry (U.S. Civil War)

In addition to taking an interest in my direct ancestors who served in the military, I take a particular interest in my great-great grandmothers (born 1800’s). When it comes to Remembrance Day (U.S.= Veteran’s Day), one great-great grandmother stands out. Harriet Susannah Ellis (1863 – 1939) was born in Co. Sligo, Ireland on the same day that the U.S. Union Army reorganized along the Potomac River during the U.S. Civil War. She then went on to have life experiences with dates that corresponded to several historical events known to many. She was married in Dublin the same year that James Joyce was born there. She emigrated to North America the year after the Titanic sank. At the end of her life, World War II was underway; she died the same day that the Soviets invaded Poland. While she never personally served in the military, two of her grandsons did military service during WWII; one of her grandsons was involved in the U.S. invasion of Japan, while another grandson participated in D Day.

Now would be a good time to start learning more about your ancestors – recent and not so recent – have served in the military..

Today, Remembrance Day, is an important day to remember all who have served their country with military service. Thank you.

Learn more about Kim Burkhardt’s “out of obscurity” genealogy services and Women of Yesteryear books here.


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