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) his World War II draft registration and (possibly) his World War I draft registration. For the first time in my memory, I saw his signature on the World War II document. More intriguing, I found his town of birth - something I never knew - but it doesn't seem to exist -"Altsandas, Austria" - another mystery for a later date. (I am not sure what country it is in today, but it was Austria-Hungary when he came to this country around 1903).
I then looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found this. After the war he worked for several years on Governor's Island, part of New York City, where his enlistment took place. What I know of his enlistment is that he was already considered disabled (a childhood illness destroyed his hearing in one ear) and had tried to enlist without success. But, by 1942, we needed anyone who could serve.
|State of Residence:||New York|
|County or City:||Kings[Brooklyn]|
|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. 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 peacetime 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.
Finally, the Revolutionary War monument, also on the Courthouse lawn.
Are you a vet? Are there vets in your life you wish to honor, no matter which country? Please leave a comment.