Question of the Week: What do you do to honor the veterans in your family tree?

+21 votes

In the United States, we observe Memorial Day the end of May. I thought this would be a good time to share how we each honor the veterans in our family branches.

in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (373k points)
retagged by Abby Glann
I always remember Memorial Day as May 30, not the last Monday of May when it is celebrated. We remember the relatives by placing an American Flag by their gravestone and say a prayer of thanks to the many still serving, for keeping our freedom and for a safe return home to family and friends
I add their pictures and a brief comment on Facebook.
The veterans in my family were both Scottish Veterans and I remember them at the dates of Scottish or British dates for remembering. I feel this is what they would most appreciate.
I have a Veteran soldier folder on my FACEBOOK site and post my relatives in their uniform or something of that era like a flag or cap...
Being a proud Air Force veteran myself, I fly the American flag 365 days a year and seek out vets from the Vietnam Era to say thank you.  I have military members in my family all the way back to the Knights Templar.  I always thank my family for their time served in and out of uniform.  Once military always military.

Teresa Langford


Our families have a rich heritage of service. In recent times social media has become an excellent means to express gratitude for service and sacrifice. We always recognize our family members on days of significance.
Our family just discovered the prisoner of war records and medals awarded to my husband's grandfather (WWI).  To honour his service I bought our family members a lapel pin of a poppy with the Royal Ulster Rifles insignia on top.  We will wear them with pride each November 11th.
Our church always has a celebration on the Sunday before.  Everyone wears red, white and blue and we sing patriotic songs.  We always end the ceremony with a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives to give us the freedom we have today.
All males in my immediate family served in the military.  My brother Lawrence served in the US Army's 41st Infantry Division during WWII. Beginning in Australia, they fought their way to the Philippines and then occupation duty in Japan. Brother Ellis joined the Navy right out of high school in June 1944. Served in the Pacific on a sea plane tender, including service at Okinawa as the Kamikaze planes rained down.  The rest of the five boys never saw combat but served:  Leonard, Navy, 1948-52; Ernie, Army, 1951-53; Wayne, Army, 1953-55; Lester, Army, 1954-56; George, Army, 1958-60.  In addition, our sisters married WWII veterans: Josephine's first husband, Clifford Baird, Navy; after his death, she married Bud Bray, Army, who lost an arm in the Philippines. Helen's husband, Walter Johnson, was in the Coast Guard and was on landing crafts in the Pacific.  Our father's brother served during WWI, and our mother's brother died of an illness before deployment during WWI.  Our family is not gung ho "kill them all" type people. But when our country needed us, we responded and showed up for basic and boot camp--fleeing to Canada or some other sanctuary was farthest from our minds. And I ask a question of writers who defend young men who did not serve when called because of some personal ideology:  What if everyone shared that view?  There are many jobs besides fighting, and the government offers conscientious objectors (CO) that choice.  My four older brothers and three brothers-in-law are deceased. Now I am 85,  belong to the American Legion Post 639, the Korean War Veterans Assn. of the Ozarks, and for 11 years have directed Veterans Connection, a monthly breakfast for interested veterans. I honor veterans who in so  many ways defended our country.  May God continue to bless our country, is my prayer.

25 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

As a Vietnam War Veteran, I consider it to be the MOST important holiday in America. (I have instilled in my daughter since she was born, that Memorial Day IS NOT for family cookouts, softball games, beer drinking parties and going on family picnics or swimming. .IT IS  for HONORING  the Americans that gave their lives that we can enjoy the Freedoms we ALL have as Americans!!!! . I have ancestors (Direct) that fought in the French & Indian War, Revolutionary  War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, World War One, World War Two, Vietnam and the Gulf War. I participate as a member of the Honor Guard/Firing Squad at Fulton Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony. (33d Wisconsin Vol. Infantry) Afterwards , me and my daughter spend the rest of the day going to a number of different cemeteries in Illinois and Wisconsin to put flowers on our ancestors graves. 

To me, Memorial Day is Special, because that is basically what I do for a living. I work for the National Park Service at National Battlefields doing "Interprative Living History" to the visitors (Gettysbug, Antietiam, Bull Run, Chickamaugua, Stones River, Franklin, Shiloh, Spottslvania Court House, Cold Harbor, The Seven Days Battles, Kennesaw Mountian, Lookout Mountain.........

John M Wedeward


Sons of the American Revolution (Natanial Aimes Post) , Sons of Union Veterans (SUV) Henry Harden Post #2, VFW Post 2708- Edgerton, Wisonsin                                            

by John Wedeward G2G Crew (960 points)
selected by John Wedeward
While I have no Vietnam Vets that I know of in my family, I just want to say how much I admire you guys; going through what you did and so young; I tried out the reserves once and failed miserably lol, I can't imagine what it was like for you when I couldn't even hack the training! In Australia our Vietnam Vets fought for ages to be recognised - I don't know what it is like where you are but you deserve all the recognition, thank you for your commitment to make the world a safer place so us spoilt younger ones can enjoy it,

Grateful Aussie.
+9 votes
My family it mostly just another work day since most of us are self employed or participate in the family businesses. My mother had a few uncles who served but most of them have now passed away. Other years we all get together and do a day of work at one of the families houses
by Steve Schmidt G2G6 Pilot (362k points)
+20 votes
Great question Julie, Thanks for asking!! For those veterans who passed away that are on my watchlist  I try to make sure they have their categories listed on their WikiTree profiles for what branch of service they were in, awards received and for what war they were involved in.

For those relatives still living, I try to let them know of Memorial Day remembrance programs going on in their area by email or on Facebook. Like for where I live, we have a program at our veterans park with guest speakers, music and red roses given out to Gold Star mothers. We also have an honor guard posting the appropriate flags, 21 gun salute and taps. I myself as a veteran have done the invocation prayer and served on the honor guard for these events!
by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
Good morning Dorothy


I just posted a question on how to identify the veterans in my tree.


You indicate in your answer to Julie "I try to make sure they have their categories listed on their WikiTree profiles for what branch of service they were in, awards received and for what war they were involved in."  Where on the profiles do you do that?


Thank you

Hi Michael, I sent you an email with examples. In short, you put the categories on the "edit page" of your profile above the word "Biography" using brackets and the word "Category" for each item, like this [[Category: United States Air Force]].

PS: Thank you for your service!! I'm retired Army myself, 20 years service.
+12 votes
I think a lot of people do not understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is to honor those who have died in military service, usually during war time. Veterans Day is for all who have served and includes the living, like me.

For Veterans Day, my sister and I (both Veterans) go to free lunch and drag our husbands (not Veterans). We sit there for more than an hour and have fun "catching up." No one tries to rush us out even though its crowded.

My workplace places flags on Veteran's graves for Memorial Day, but I can't bend over far enough to do that unfortunately. I like the idea of fixing up profiles for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I may go to the Long Island National Cemetery and take photos after my lovely co-workers have placed the flags. I thank you for the inspiration.
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (491k points)
+6 votes
Here in Canada, my family honours Rememberance Day, November 11th, with moment of silence on the 11th hour & 11th minute, meditation/reflection and/or prayer (for those of us of a faith). We wear poppies for at least a week ahead of this day. Sadly, we have lost track of our families personal contributions and don't attend services held. Thru the collaborations of research here on wiki tree, I am hoping bring to a stronger light, the service of all our countrymens (past, present and brothers &sisters over the borders) to my children and hopefully extended family. I already feel closer to my great grandfather having explored some of his personal records from WWI. :)
by Kim Pritchard G2G Crew (380 points)
+7 votes
I agree that Memorial Day is to commemorate those who died in service of the USA.  The only member of my family that I know of who died in battle was my Canadian Great Uncle and that is celebrated as noted by Kim in November.  

However, I have many family members both living and dead of non-combat related causes in my family so I make sure to honor them and their service by doing things like paying for the bill of a current service person I see at a restaurant that entire weekend and Monday that we celebrate as Memorial Day.  

 I also have a person who I think of as a big brother who was killed during his time in service.  I make sure to do at least a good act each hour I am awake to honor his memory by trying to do something that benefits those in need who are living now.  It is important to honor their sacrifice to keep this country free by helping others, especially veterans in need.  So I try to do something that helps veterans, their families, or veteran programs either by making a monetary donation or  volunteering with an organization that supports veteran needs.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (651k points)
I have family pages on FB and list all of our soldiers with pictures....I share fam pics of the day with people visiting gravesites on Memorial Day or celebrating with their veterans on Veterans Day.

I change cover pages and try to find history....for the ladies pages I find images or stories about women soldiers with cover pages to match and it does include Black women and other women of color.
+6 votes

As with Kim in Canada, in Britain Remembrance day occurs on the 11th November and now serves as a memorial day for people who died in the first world war and all conflicts since then.  The large ceremony in London and those   in towns and villages throughout the country  actually take place on the nearest Sunday to the 11th but more recently there has been a return to holding the minutes silence on the day itself

On the Saturday, from being a small child, I have always watched on television, the Festival of Remembrance  event at the Albert Hall, attended by the Royal family  It ends with a service around a drumhead altar which  includes a fanfare followed by silence when poppy petals, supposedly one for each death in conflict  fall from the ceiling onto the heads of the gathered servicemen and women.  followed by various, often  'weepy' or patriotic hymns.

 I think there is a difference in attitude to 'Veterans' here than in the US. I often see people from the US on here thanking people for their service. My husband had a full career in the RAF as did his brother. My father was  in the services when I was a child. None of them were actually in the field  (unless you count Northern Ireland )   I  personally, don't  really think of  them  as anything more special than someone who also served their community in other ways

On wikitree I've found and recorded as much as I could about my great uncle who died in the early months of WW1 and also some of those who survived. Reading their service histories has really brought home to me the horror of sending these poor, often malnourished boys(  short in stature and narrow of chest)giving them a rifle and shipping them off to fight in France and Belgium.


by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (307k points)
+7 votes
I recently discovered categories and background images. I have been working through those on my watchlist and adding them to the appropriate military categories and adding patriotic backgrounds to each of their profiles. Also, as I am updating the categories and background images on WikiTree I add Flag flowers to their Find A Grave memorials with my relationship and the WikiTree ID, so that any other family members that come across their Find A Grave memorial can also view their profiles on WikiTree.
by NJ Penny G2G6 Pilot (144k points)
+6 votes
I have begun putting a link on my profile to veterans, starting with the Revolutionary War and now up to the US Civil War.  I also put the appropriate template on their profiles.  Started with direct descendants but also now include the brothers of my descendants.
by G. Moore G2G6 Mach 3 (34.5k points)
I like the idea of putting a link on your profile page to veterans.  Your page looks great.  How exactly to you include them as a link on your page? How do you make it show up as a link? I'd like to do this as well.  Kevin
You use an internal wiki link, e.g.
 [[Moore-27439|G. Moore]]
Perfect. Thank you!
I love how you've set up your profile, especially honoring the veterans in your family. Think I'm going to "steal" this idea from you! ;)
+6 votes
I hug them.  My father is a veteran and my mother was also.  I live in Asia, so the hugs may be virtual but they are still hugs.
by DK Clews G2G5 (5.2k points)
+4 votes
Every parish we have belonged to celebrates Mass at the parish cemetery on that day, and sometimes there is an honor guard from the local veterans group to offer a gun salute.  Being 3rd generation Navy - after my father and grandfather - it makes the day more special.
by Ron Heroux G2G5 (5.2k points)
+5 votes
My father, like his father before him, flew the American flag, daily ... I carry on that tradition, for them ...
+4 votes

My family has fought in every American war since before the Revolution.  Timothy Sexton was at Valley Forge, Samuel Duncan was an Over Mountain Man at Cowpens and Guilford's Court House.  Extended family includes "Nollychucky Jack" John Sevier One ancestor was taken prisoner right after joining up in Kentucky and marched to Detroit by the British in 1812.  Haven't found any, yet who fought for Texas, but I am sure there is at least one.  Some might think it strange but my relatives in Scott County, Tennessee sent 444 including at least 2 GGGrand fathers to fight in the Civil War, only 14 of them Confederates.  My father's father was in the Philippines in the Spanish-American war, and my father was in the retaking of Bataan and the Philippines and fought in The Battle of Corregidor.  I was a Hospitial Corpsman during Viet Nam and one of my known cousins was a casualty of that war.  My cousin's son was in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently works for the VA.

by Phillip Thompson G2G6 Mach 2 (25.2k points)
+3 votes
My Dad is a veteran of WWII in the USArmy Air force. He is still alive.

The only other veterans I know of for certain in our ancestry are my Mom's grandfather, a Confederate veteran of the 7th Florida Infantry, and her great-great-grandfather, a veteran of the South Carolina militia during the Revolution; and some of Dad's ancestors in Canada, Nouvelle-France, who were in the French colonial regiments in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Memorial Day? I am not going to put a Confederate battle flag on my great-grandfather Abraham L. Ross's page, no. I suppose I could put a South Carolina flag on old Hugh Ross's page.
by Ross Ashley G2G6 (9.4k points)
+4 votes
I am a 20-year Retired United States Air Force Veteran.

I fly the American Flag in front of my house every day.

I had a step-son who was in the US Army for 7 years, and I remind his children of his Service,(hi died in 2005 of a heart attack)
by Clarence Rogers G2G1 (1.6k points)
Thanks for your service
Thank you for your service Clarence (and for your step-son's).
+2 votes
We usually go to the Church Cemetery where they are buried and place either an American Flag, or an American & a Confederate Flag by their graves, also 2 of them receive a Cherokee Flag too.  Since my ancestors, and the majority of my family live in the South, the Confederate flags only mean their beliefs. In my research I found NONE of my ancestors had slaves.  I have joined the Daughters of the Confederacy to show respect to all of my Confederate ancestors.  We say prayers for the departed, and for the ones still in the Service.  Thanks for asking and allowing me to give my respects.
+2 votes

Here in New Zealand we honour our war veterans on ANZAC Day which is commemorated on April 25th each year.  It honours those New Zealand and Australian troops who died during the battle which began the land phase of the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War, as well as all NZ army, air-force and navy personnel who have been involved in conflicts since.

Personally I updated my "Roll of Honour" which is part of my family website in recognition of the sacrifice those family members made. If anyone is interested here is the link

And also a link with more information about ANZAC Day

Best wishes to all,
Lesley Haslip (nee Wenzlick)

by Lesley Haslip G2G1 (1.4k points)
+1 vote
One of the exciting things I enjoy about Wikitree is being able to trackdown and honor family members who served in the military and past wars.
by Kevin Maxey G2G5 (5.4k points)
+1 vote

I'm not sure if the question pertains to what we do to honor them on WikiTree or in real life. For those who are interested in honoring veterans on WikiTree, I would suggest they might join the Military and War Project:

In real life I feel we should honor them by living our lives in a manner that would justify their service and sacrifices and become a living legacy for them. I don't mean by waving flags and holding hands over our hearts, but by doing our best to keep our families and our country progressing, year-by-year and generation-by-generation.

by Bill Vincent G2G6 Pilot (134k points)
+2 votes
I don't honor veterans for the same reason that I don't honor rapists, torturers or mass-murderers. I deeply dislike patriotism and nationalism, which I see as some of the worst human flaws.
I am proud of my maternal grandfather who deserted from all the armies that enrolled him against his will and who were fighting each other during WW2. There were at least 3 groups in the area, none having more legitimacy than the other. All what my grandfather wanted was to take care of his family.
I am also very proud of my paternal grandfather who secretly befriended an enemy during WW1 and always made sure not to harm anyone by always shooting in the air and never at people. I am also proud of him for shooting himself in the leg so that he could be sent home instead of wasting huis time on the frontline.
by Damien Marsic G2G Rookie (260 points)

Why do you  NOT move to some place like Cuba,North Kora, Samalia.....   that seams the the BEST place for someone WHO DOES NOT care about indiviual Freedoms and Rights.  Protected by our VETERANS!!!!


John M Wedeward

Wow.  I am speechless.  When ISIS comes to the US to behead your family, you will welcome them with open arms.

I don't have any family in the US ;)
Creating more wars, bombing more countries, killing more people are not the solution to prevent terrorism. It's the opposite. More violence generates even more violence. Anyway, ISIS is entirely the product of US actions. There was no islamic terrorism in Iraq, Lybia or Syria before the US started bombing these countries or allowed their allies to sned mercenaries to destabilize regimes that were not subservient enough to US interests. Read this very interesting article on the topic:

My grandparents did not have to worry about people wanting to behead their families. They had to worry about various armies or militias wanting to enroll them to fight on their side, and they did not want to take side. The area they lived in changed name several times and even belonged to various different countries during their lifetime, and the rulers often spoke a different language from their own. To pledge allegiance to a particular army or ruler or political entity or nation would have been absurd. But even in a stable country, I still think that pledging allegiance and feeling patriotic is absurd. All people everywhere on Earth are human beings, and they all deserve the same respect and the same rights.

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