June 11, 2023: The Veterans' Legacy Program
Down the rabbit hole of research. An apt phrase for me and my fellow educators this week, as we are in the middle of a 10-day Teacher Institute in which we are immersing ourselves in researching the lives of Veterans buried in the National Cemeteries.
While we have worked, we have been guided and mentored by some fabulous historical and military scholars. I am learning so much about the types of resources available, the primary sources, how to verify and synthetize information that may seem contradictory, how to access and preserve documentation, how genealogical research supports this process, cross referencing data bases, and more.
Enlistment papers, census reports, marriage licenses, church records, and more. All of these documents help to piece together the lives of these Veterans. Some lived and served more than 200 years ago, and others, more recently. Some information has been easy to find, and others, incredibly difficult. What has been interesting as well, is discovering first-hand, the impact that race, rank, and wealth play in the availability of many documents, and therefore, the stories being preserved.
That is our purpose. To help to uncover and preserve the stories of the Veterans, to not only honor their service, but to help us better understand the larger history of our country. It is so powerful to see how the lives of these individual Veteran’s reflect the larger story of our country and its history. It is humbling to see how many lost stories we can uncover and bring to light. Some stories have been tragic. Some inspirational. All have been powerful. When we make those connections to situations and veterans, that may at first seem very different from us, our passion expands. Our sense of connectedness is fed and our appreciation for those who have served, grows.
That is the goal, as we continue to work to bring to light, the lost stories of those who have served.