Today, the genealogy website Ancestry.com has free access and you can look up military records for anyone in their database.
I looked up my grandfather on my mother's side and found (definitely,because I knew the address) his World War II draft card and (possibly) his World War I draft card. For the first time in memory, I saw his signature. And I saw his town of birth - something I never knew - but it doesn't seem to exist -"Altsandas, Poland" - another mystery for a later date. (I am not sure of the country today, but it was Austria-Hungary when he came to this country.
I looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found this: and, in a kind of irony, after the war he worked for several years on Governor's Island, part of New York City.
|State of Residence:||New York|
|County or City:||Kings(a borough of New York City)|
|Enlistment Date:||6 Aug 1942|
|Enlistment State:||New York|
|Enlistment City:||Fort Jay Governors Island|
|Term of Enlistment:||Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law|
|Component:||Selectees (Enlisted Men)|
|Education:||2 years of high school|
|Civil Occupation:||Semiskilled occupations in manufacture of miscellaneous electrical equipment, n.e.c.|
|Marital Status:||Single, with dependents|
More memories. My Dad was always tall and thin, so his statistics were no surprise. But why would my father have been single, with dependents? Because he helped to raise his youngest brother after his mother died. Just as he raised me after my mother died.
These documents may not show much, but they can still tell a story. You just need to be creative to read and understand the story.
In honor of all vets (including my father, who received a head injury in his military service, and my husband, who is a peactime vet) I also offer these local military monuments in our area.
Endicott, New York, a few miles down Main Street from where I live.
Veterans Memorial statue.
The war memorials - World War II, which my father served in (in the Army Air Force) as did one of his brothers, and one of his sisters.
The Korean War. When I grew up it wasn't a "war", it was a "police action". But the people were just as dead.
Binghamton - part of the Korean War monument on the Broome County courthouse lawn.
And the Revolutionary War monument, also on the Courthouse lawn.
Are you a vet? Are there vets in your life you wish to honor? Please leave a comment.