Themes which bring us together.
I was thinking about stories and storytelling this afternoon when I pulled up speeches I wrote to give at WWII reunions the last couple of years. There were things I had forgotten I wrote and spoke of, and powerful questions we should be asking ourselves. I believe the WWII research or genealogy research we do, is more important than finding facts, or adding names, dates, and places, to our family tree. The reason we are drawn to military or genealogy research runs deeper. Not everyone realizes this, and not everyone stops to question, ‘Why?’
Why was I chosen to walk this path?
Why are we researching the dead?
Why do we feel compelled to research the dead?
Are we paying attention to their stories or just collecting names and facts?
Are we paying attention to the miracles and healing that show up because of our research?
On 16 July 2016, I had the honor of meeting and listening to World War II Marine, Hershel “Woody” Williams, say in a speech about his project on Gold Star Memorials, “Miracles happen every day. Miracles happen whether we are paying attention to them or not.”
Woody is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.
He explained it is his dream to have at least one Gold Star Memorial in every state. A place where family members can grieve over their lost loved ones. There are many monuments and statues honoring veterans in our country, but nothing for the family members who sacrificed so much.
Woody continued and spoke about those left behind. Family members who lost someone in the war and the veterans who lost their buddies.
He asked an important question:
Why was I chosen to represent those who never got to come home?
I smiled when he asked that question, because I ask myself the same thing daily, as I research another WWII soldier who never made it home from war. They all have stories to tell and lessons to impart. It is a miracle to hear someone else question the same thing I do. To feel the same thing I do. Most people do not discuss this.
Every time I think I have answered that question for myself, someone else shows up to say, ‘You aren’t finished yet. The reasons you identified are not the only reasons. You must keep researching, writing, healing, and telling our stories. We are more connected than you realize.’
Have you ever asked yourself that question as you collect facts and photographs about the soldier you are researching?
Why were YOU chosen to represent those who never got to come home?
© 2017 World War II Research and Writing Center