Question of the Week: How do you honor the veterans in your family?

+14 votes

Several countries observe November 11th as a day to remember those who served. The U.S. has Veterans Day, New Zealand, France, Belgium and Serbia have Armistice Day, the UK, Australia and Canada have Remembrance Day and in Poland it is their National Independence Day. 

This is also a special November 11th, as it marks 100 years since the end of World War I.

We'd like to know how do you honor the veterans in your family?

See our Military and War Project.

P.S. Reshare the question image on Facebook so your friends and family will see your answer.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker
For many years my Church would have a veteran lead communion and also recite ‘We will remember them’. Then we had an active serviceman in our congregation for a few years. I believe this year we will have a Vietnam Vet, as they haven’t always been given due respect it is wonderful to see.

Our Last Pastor would be absent doing Remembrance Services, and the associate Pastor took over. The new Pastor will be present.

My great Uncle gave his life in WW1. My Father, step-Father , and  Father-in-law all fought in WW2. 2 brother-in-laws went to Vietnam. All services are represented. One nephew is currently serving in the Australian Army.

Also my maternal grandfather was a gardener for the English War Graves Commission, keeping the graves of fallen servicemen of WW1, in a little town near the Somme.
Wow Marion, you brought back a memory for me back in the early 70's when my home church allowed me to help with communion.

Thanks for sharing that, and the fact your family served and one gave HIS ALL!  My respects to them this day!!
Just a very minor point. Your grandad worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, not the "English War Graves Commission" - a far more important body, as I think you'll agree. His service would have been very much appreciated. Thank you for reminding us.
Thank you Christopher, yes it was The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They were very lucky to get out of France, last boat in fact, because they had to get my mum and aunt’s papers translated and notarised first. Even tho the parents had English papers!
I walk or ride in the Tallahassee Veterans Day parade. I carry the names of 24 members of my  family who have served. I have known all but 2 of them. Those two I never knew served during the Texas/Mexican War for Independence and the Civil War. I also know family members served during the Revolutionary War, possibly on both sides, but do not know their names. I do know that a cousin and one grandmother were/are members of the DAR. The cousin may know names I can research.
It is right and proper that we honour those who have been killed in wars - ALL, not just those who fought. In the last century, with the advent of 'total war' many civilians have also died. The white poppy is an alternative to the traditional red poppy and is an anti-war pro-peace symbol - more information here -

But there is one particular category who have been maligned through the centuries: the conscientious objectors. It takes a great deal of courage to resist the call to arms, yet their reward typically is the white feather and ostracisation from their community. I am proud that four of my great-uncles refused to enlist to fight in the senseless First World War, as a matter of principle. And my father, a pacifist, worked through the WW2 blitz in a chemical factory in the east end of London, and served as a volunteer fire-watcher at night when the factory was in the midst of intensive bombing. He survived this and later joined the RAF as a pilot - but that is a long story. Simple question, though - how should we commemorate those who because of their deep religious and moral convictions, resisted the pressure to join the military killing machine?
In Australia we have our biggest marches and service on ANZAC Day, 25 April, also services are held to mark various special days through out the year. I served in the Army in 1968/69, and i am now a member of various organisations for ex service personal. I would add a photo if I knew how.

19 Answers

+16 votes
Best answer

Thank you Eowyn for asking this question. As a lot of members know, I myself am a veteran, served 20 years in the Army. Anyway, I belong to the local Vietnam Veterans group here in my area. We participated in our county veterans day parade last Sunday. Our senior center has a free meal and guest speaker honoring our local veterans. Our chapter provides an honor guard for the event. That will be tonight actually. This is from last year here in Hendersonville, Tn: 


A couple of schools have asked our veterans from the chapter to speak to the class. We get invites every year and route what schools we go to. Many of our local churches will also have a brief mention of our veterans along with an honor guard. We have participated in many of those services and will again this Sunday in Clarksville, Tn. So we keep busy at this time of the year.

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
selected by Jennifer Olmstead
Thank YOU Dorothy,  for your service!
Dorothy, I honor you for your service to our country.
Thank you Eowyn and Pip!!
+11 votes
The DAR chapter in the community we live in takes care of honoring veterans - all I have to do is attend the lovely ceremony they hold each year.  They reach out to veterans in the community and make the event very personal for them, inviting them to loan their military memorabilia for display at the event.  The ceremony starts with introduction of the veterans, who march down the aisle to the section reserved for them, posting of colors by SAR (sons) members dressed in revolutionary war uniforms, then pledge and anthem, an invocation, a keynote speaker who usually talks about his/her service experiences, presentation of cards to the veterans by CAR (children) members, retiring of colors, and ending with informal reception featuring h'ors d'oevres, desserts, and punch.  A couple of weeks afterward, we receive a DVD in the mail with the video of the entire ceremony.

My husband is a 26 year veteran of the Air Force and was a fighter pilot with 196 combat missions over North Vietnam.  Before we moved here 11 years ago, he always complained that he never had a parade when he came home - instead, people spat on him, called him all kinds of bad names.  When we were leaving the first ceremony we attended here, I told him that he finally had his parade!  It makes him feel so good to be appreciated.  Unfortunately, we had to miss the event this year because he is not well enough to attend.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (769k points)
Thank you for sharing Gaile and your husband for serving.
+10 votes
On the Sunday closest to Veterans Day, I honor my World War II dad by placing his Air Medal in the altar at my church along with a picture of him in his Navy uniform. Twenty-seven years after his death, I still miss him.

Veterans Day is also my grandmother’s birthday (1897), so I also give flowers for the service that day.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
That is nice that your church allows you to do that, a very nice gesture!! Both grandparents would be proud!!
+7 votes

I brought my children up to respect and honour those who went before; both those who returned (or we wouldn't be here today) and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

We have attended marches on ANZAC Day, dawn services, same, have always respected the moments of silence on the 11th November (I remember doing this in school) and, in general, give the respect that is due to those we meet who served, no matter what their capacity.  A cook is as great as a general, because without the cook, the general wouldn't eat.  Without the aircraft mechanics, the pilots wouldn't have planes to fly.  And so on.  It shouldn't matter where you served, but that you did it.  Then there are those who served unwillingly, going against their personal beliefs.  The "fortunate" of those were able to be medics, or similar.*

I think I "did it right", because my grandchildren also attend and respect.

* That being said, I can also respect those who stood for their beliefs and refused to serve, going to jail/gaol/prison for it.  Sometimes we serve by making a stand for what we believe is right.

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (241k points)

Hi Melanie, thanks for sharing! You mentioned A cook is as great as a general, because without the cook, the general wouldn't eat.  Without the aircraft mechanics, the pilots wouldn't have planes to fly.  And so on.  I agree, it takes a team to make an Army or Air Force or whatever branch of service one serves in. 

+7 votes
Veterans day in the Netherlands is on the last Saturday in June. Around the birthday of Prince Bernhard who led the dutch troups during the 2WW.

it's not a big tradition yet. It was implemented in 2003. My brother is a veteran of the peace missions in Bosnia-Herzegovinia and is invited every year to the local celebration. But it is not a big deal.... yet.

The biggest occassion war veterans are honored is on the 5th of may when whe celebrate Liberation day (2WW) Every year a lot of WW2 veterans from abroad come to celebrate this with the Dutch people.  They're in their 80's and 90's so in a few years time none of them will be there anymore and we are looking for a different way to celebrate it.
by Eef van Hout G2G6 Mach 5 (57.7k points)
That is awesome especially for the older service members, memories they can share and hold on to!! Interesting to learn what everyone does in their own country, thanks for sharing Eef!!
+6 votes

I wear a poppy, which means you give money each time you replace the one you lost. I have lost three. wink I also watched the Remembrance Day Ceremony from Parliament Hill. I got goosebumps when the fly over happened, then got goosebumps again when the jets flew low over our house, twice. The rest of the Day I worked the genealogy of one of our Canadian Soldiers whose remains were discovered in France. Working to connect the soldier to his living family. This way his remains can be buried in a grave, with his family there, his name on the tombstone. He will be identified.

by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (497k points)
+4 votes
I am working to add at least a summary of their service record to every member of my extended family who served. Phase 2 will be when I add the cemeteries of those who lie buried overseas, on Gallipoli, in France and Belgium, North Africa, Burma, and the Asia-Pacific region.

As a veteran, this is emotionally difficult for me. But as my physical and psychological injuries prevent me from continuing to serve in uniform any more, this is away that I can continue to serve.
by Rory Cain G2G6 (9.3k points)
+4 votes
In my immediate family (of nine children), only two of us served. My oldest sister (US Air Force 6 years and her husband retired from the AF), and myself (I retired from the Army, after just over 21 years). My son served in the Air force. My uncle (mom's brother) served in the AF for six years. This is what I thought was the extent of our military service... I "thought"...

Having said that... Through my genealogical research of the last seven or so years, I have found that my paternal lineage (who immigrated to America in 1744) have served in every war since the Revolutionary War. In fact, it was the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812 (including the "Indian Wars"), that drove my Gregg/Gragg lineage to pioneer from Pennsylvania (Cumberland County), through Virginia, to the Carolinas through land grants due to their military service. And as the States split (Virginia/West Virginia... North Carolina/Tennessee etc...) my lineage who all stuck together in their migrations (were split with the separation of the States as our nation grew).

I didn't have much connection with my paternal lineage until my genealogical research. But when I found out that three of my father's brothers served in three different wars... WW II, Korea, and Vietnam, I couldn't have been more proud of my Military connections.

My maternal side, amazingly enough, immigrated to Pennsylvania in the first diaspora of William Penn. And Both my maternal lineage, and my paternal lineage were farmers in Cumberland County Pennsylvania at the same time. After I found this out, I often wondered if they ever met each other and had any interaction during that time. It may be doubtful, as my paternal side were Scots-Irish, and my paternal side was German  (Pennsylvania Dutch), and historically, familial clan-groups kept to themselves for the most part. But it's cool to think that it may have happened :)

When I researched my Material lineage, I found that the Military history was nearly as rich. And three of my mother's uncles served during WW 1 and WW II.

Genealogical research has been a great boon for me to not only understand the military histories of my ancestors, but it has also given me a better understanding of America's history, and given me stories to hand down to my children and grandchildren. It only served to enrich our lives.
by Ron Gragg G2G3 (3.5k points)
+6 votes

As a veteran myself, I avoid Facebook and other places where I'll be reminded of it.

As for my veteran ancestors, I put a section on my own profile page:

=== Veterans in my Tree ===

and there I list their service and notable accomplishments.

by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (941k points)
Awesome job on your veterans section SJ, I wrote a note on your page!!
Thank you for reminding others not all veterans feel positive about their military experiences.
+3 votes
My husband's grandfather was a veteran of the Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War.  He joined at the age of 16.  Eight months before the end of the war he was taken a prisoner of war and sent to a POW camp outside of Berlin.  During those months he faced starvation.  At the end of the war he decided to immigrate to Canada.  Our family commemorates with poppies with the emblem of the RIR on top.  I wear an Irish tartan sash to events leading up to Rememberance Day.
by Cindy Barr G2G Rookie (290 points)
+2 votes
Fly The Flag DAILY
+4 votes
I researched veterans in my local cemetery who didn't have tombstones; thus far, the person spearheading the project has added 3 tombstones for these vets, and we've contacted family members to encourage them to apply for tombstones.  I'm also researching vets for a Christmas wreath project someone in town is working on.  I talked the American Legion into donating funds to add 21 metal markers to the tombstones of vets in my local cemetery whose service wasn't apparent, including one of my Civil War ancestors. I'm currently researching Japanese-American veterans who were interned at the Granada Relocation Center during World War II.  That information is on a free space page. On major flag holidays, and the anniversary of my father's birth and death, I put up the American flag that was on his coffin.  I gave a speech at a rededication of the local G.A.R. memorial, and I continue to research Civil War vets in my town. I recreated a list of Colorado Veterans who died before 1942, which is on now on Wikitree.  I tell my kids about their relatives who were veterans.  That's probably about it.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (194k points)
+3 votes
Since both of our families have a long military history dating back to the Revolutionary War in the United States, and my husband is a veteran, this holiday has a special meaning for us.

This year, we joined my sister and brother-in-law to see the Puerto Rico navy ship christened and watched Sonia Sotomayer, the ship's sponsor and first female Latina Supreme Court Justice, break the bottle.

Tomorrow, we are taking my father-in-law (also a veteran) to an Air Force flight museum. I know that the holiday is officially over, but as I said - it's a big deal and we sometimes celebrate on multiple days if we cannot catch up with our favorite vet on the day itself.
by Alicia Taylor G2G6 Mach 4 (41.6k points)
+3 votes

I grew up among veterans of the second world war.  My father and three uncles saw overseas combat, and one of them was a prisoner of war.  Our family observations were subdued because recollections of that era brought back painful memories of the POW experience, of the sounds and faces of dying men, and of the emotional distress of my aunt whose fiancé died in circumstances which remained classified for decades so she never married because she was unsure if he was still alive.

Like many of my friends who served in Vietnam, my memories of that part of my life are largely negative.  I feel unable to apologize to individuals whose lives were damaged because I followed the orders of politicians acting in secrecy without consent of the populations they ruled.  I prefer Memorial Day as an opportunity to offer my respect to deceased friends and family who suffered through periods of warfare -- without rekindling their memories of that suffering.

by AL Wellman G2G6 (7.5k points)
+3 votes

Not just honouring those who served but also those of whom who fell in active duty. Big one this year, my great grand uncle who died October 31st 1918, 11 days before the armistice declaration.

If we're answering the question from a WikiTree perspective, then a FSP 

If we're talking in about what I do here in New Zealand? It depends on the day...

by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (167k points)
+1 vote
My dad, his father and his father all served our country.

I just got through filling up 30 bags for 30 homeless Veterans in New Hampshire with assorted toiletries,  tissues, a hat and a pair of socks.

There are 226 Veterans from New Hampshire alone that lost their lives. Every day, for 226 days, I post a photo and a brief summary of their service.

Every December 7th, my father made a donation to the Santa Fund in memory of an friend that died on the U.S.S. Arizona, Pearl Harbor.Since his death, we make the same donation in memory of my father and the friend he never forgot.
+2 votes
For several years now, I have honoured a veteran of any conflict by researching and writing about their service. Once I became a member of WikiTree, it became the platform for the veterans' profiles. Then I started adding poppies to the profiles and was spurred on by the Poppy for Every Grave movement. Profiles I manage may have Canadian, British or Australian poppies. I wish there were nice little tags for them all, the realize that a poppy on the grave of a War of 1812 veteran would be silly. One observation I've made is that whatever reason they may have for their participation in conflict, a great many of the returned men and women have become exceptional citizens.
by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 4 (41.4k points)
0 votes
My husband Ted and I are the only veterans in our family of those living.  I went to the VA Clinic the other day and I always proudly wear my Vietnam veteran cap.  Another veteran came up shook my hand and said "Welcome Home" and thanks for serving.  Saying Welcome Home spoke volumes and made me want to cry.  It was so touching.

by Taylor Worthington Gilchrist G2G6 Mach 8 (82.9k points)
0 votes
I am an officer in my local American Legion Post AND am the State Chairman of American Legion Baseball.

As one of our managers used to say: "We play to honor their service." 2 of his kids are veterans and involved in Legion Baseball as well.
by Roy Lamberton G2G6 Mach 3 (37k points)

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