Page 1 - Sentinel Nov 2016
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IN HONOR OF                                                          NOVEMBER 2016
                                                                     ans’ home, the other died young. Both left small children who
A personal accounting of American Heroes and                         were raised in the Ohio Veterans Children’s Home. The Geor-
Veterans                                                             gia farm boy made it to Richmond, Virginia, where he died in
                                                                     hospital of disease the first year of the war. The other soldier
I come from an oddly military family. Few were profession-           from Georgia was also a farmer, but no longer a “boy.” He
al soldiers; no one was drafted. They just enlisted when duty        enlisted in Cobb’s Legion at age 50 in August 1861. He got to
called. Their stories are representative of thousands and thou-      Richmond, but by May 1862, he was ill. Hospitals in Richmond
sands of United States citizens who have stepped up over the         were overcrowded, so they sent him home on the train. He died
decades when they were needed. I’ll share a few of their sto-        31 May, 1862, the day after he got home to Georgia.
ries—maybe they’ll remind you of some of yours, and we can
honor them all in our hearts.                                        I have a lot of ancestors who served in the Revolution, but my
                                                                     favorite Revolutionary War ancestor was Timothy Meeker, born
My father was commissioned in the Army through ROTC in               1708 in New Jersey. He was a Minute Man and wagon master
1927, but he completed his reserve service and “retired”—un-         in the Revolutionary War and fought along with several mem-
til, at age 36, father of two, he marched to the recruiting station  bers of his family in the Battle of Springfield, 1780. Ripley’s
and re-enlisted on December 8, 1941. He was in Europe as a           Believe it or Not series featured him : “The Fighting Meekers:
combat engineer for the next three and a half years, and on VJ       Timothy Meeker of Northfield, N.J. enlisted in the American
Day he was on a ship on its way to Japan. He finally made it          Army at the age of 70 and fought in the American Revolution
home in November of 1945.                                            in a company with his 9 sons, 2 sons-in- law, and a grandson.”
                                                                     He died in his own bed in Northfield in 1798, age 90, a local
My grandfather, at age 35, enlisted in WWI as an army doctor.        legend.
He never had to leave Georgia, but his discharge at war’s end
was delayed because of the flu pandemic. In 1919, by default,         I even have an ancestor, a maker of wagon wheels, who be-
he became the highest ranking officer on his base outside of          came a scout in the first Pequot War in New England—1637. He
Atlanta—a first lieutenant in the medical corps!                      negotiated the alliance with the Mohegan chief, Uncas. Ever
                                                                     read James Fennimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohi-
Great grandfathers served in the Civil War—two to a side. The        cans? Same Uncas. They were good friends. After that war, he
Ohio farm boys made it back to Ohio after the war, but both          returned home to Connecticut, but he and his sons also took part
were disabled. One spent most of the rest of his life in a veter-    in the 1675 “swamp fight” in King Philip’s War, the last war
                                                                     between the Native Americans and settlers in New England. He
                                                                     was 65 that year.

                                                                     One more story, not about my ancestors but about two guys I
                                                                     once taught with. I still think of them every Veterans Day. We
                                                                     were drinking coffee in the faculty lounge one morning in 1965
                                                                     when one of them said, “I came home from Europe 20 years ago
                                                                     today on the Queen Elizabeth.” The other dropped his cup—it
                                                                     shattered. Tears began to well in his eyes. “So did I,” he said.
                                                                     “And it was my 21st birthday. You were there? In France?”
                                                                     And then they hugged. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

                                                                     To all the veterans in all the wars—stay safe. Come home.
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