Today is November 11th, and this means of course, that it is Veterans’ Day. And I think it’s essential to point out that Veterans’ Day is more than a day off and sales in just about any retail establishment. It is, most importantly, a day to remember fallen American heroes, and to acknowledge and thank those that are still with us, whether they are retired or actively serving.
I am sure that a lot of you out there have either been in the military, or know someone who has. For me, it’s the latter. And many of you also may have had several ancestors in the military too. This is true for me as well.
I had three ancestors who fought in the American Revolution: Samuel Allen, Thomas Lowry, and Amos Tinkham; because of Amos, I became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR. Unforutnately, except for Samuel Allen, I don’t know much about their service in the American Revolution, though I am constantly searching for more information. However, it’s difficult to learn much about the soldiers of that war unless it was documented somewhere at the time, such as in a pension application, diary, etc. Yet nonetheless, Amos Tinkham, Samuel Allen, Thomas Lowry, and countless others took part in the war that won us the independence that our brave men and women in uniform continue to fight for today.
I retrieved the following information about Samuel Allen from his Revolutionary War pension application: Samuel Allen playedan integral part in the capture of Major Ireland, a British major, so that they might have a British officer to exchange for Major Brush, an American major who was being held as a prisoner of war with the British. He and four others detached and crossed over to Long Island in the night. The following night, they captured Major Ireland and exchanged him for Major Brush. After the war, Samuel became a minuteman. He was also the owner of the first sire of the Morgan horse breed.
Moving ahead to the Civil War, my third great-grandfather, Henry J. Younger, is listed in a draft record, as a Union soldier from Missouri. Prior to this Henry served as part of the Enrolled Military Militia, or E.M.M. The Enrolled Missouri Militia was a part-time Missouri militia organization; it was formed during the American Civil War in 1862. The E.M.M’s main purpose was to serve as garrison and infrastructure guards, to help enhance and supplement the Unionist Missouri State Militia in defense against raids. This freed up the Missouri State Militia for offensive procedures against Confederate guerillas and recruiters.
For WWI, I have records for my great-grandfather, (Henry’s great-great-grandson), Earl Ahi Younger. He was 28 at the time and working as a motorman. This was in Missouri as well; in St. Joseph to be exact. My other great-grandfather, Ervin Oscar Allen, also has a WWI record from Rosendale, Missouri. He was twenty-nine at the time. I have a couple of great-uncles as well: Earl Elmer Allen and Silas R.D. Allen, brothers to Ervin. The Allens and Youngers are on my dad’s side of the family, and his family came from Missouri.
In WWI on my mom’s side, I have records for my great-grandfather, Masakichi Nishinaka. He was twenty-eight years old and living in San Pedro, California. Also, Ichji Ichimachi, who is my great-uncle. He was twenty-six years old and living in Portuguese Bend, California. It’s an area of San Pedro, where I currently live.
I don’t have any direct ancestors that were in WWII, but my aforementioned great-grandfather, Ervin Oscar Allen, he lost his life during WWII. He was not a soldier in the war, but he was among a group of forty construction workers from Missouri, who were headed to Bermuda for promised construction work on an American Naval Base. I went into this in greater depth in a previous blog post, so I won’t say too much about it here, but these men were aboard the S.S. Lady Hawkins along with members of the Royal Navy, civilians, and the crew who were mostly from Barbados and the West Indies. The Lady Hawkins was torpedoed by U-66 off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on January 19, 1942. There was a total of 321 people onboard; 71 of them survived. Twenty-five of the Missouri men also lost their lives; Ervin was among them.
My father, William Howard Allen was also in the United States Army. He was never in any major battles or sent overseas, but he served nonetheless.
I’m proud to be descended from soldiers from all different eras in our country’s warfare history. However, were I not related to anyone who served, I would still feel the respect and gratitude toward those that lay their lives on the line day after day for my freedom and yours.
I believe it is important to observe Veterans’ Day. I don’t think any of us really forgets that men and women are risking theirlives everyday so that we can live free, but we tend to get busy, and we end up taking it for granted. But when Veterans’ Day comes, it reminds us of the sacrifice of all past and present soldiers. We remember to honor them, and we remember how grateful and indebted we are to them.
It is important to honor our veterans year round. And once Veterans’ Day has passed, let’s each do our best to remember them every other day of the year too, and we can all do our part. Whether you make a donation to a worthy military or veteran establishment, help prepare care packages for our soldiers, or thank a veteran for his or her service every time you come across one, we can all do something to acknowledge our military men and women, and let them know that their loyal service to our country does not go by unnoticed or unappreciated.
To all veterans, whether you are now retired, in the reserves, currently serving, or you lost your life in defense of our country, a huge THANK YOU for your courage, your bravery, and your selflessness. Our country continues to be the great nation that it is because of your dedication to protecting America and her people.