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Looking Back

Today it is only fitting that we honor those who have served in the armed forces. I was too young to know what war meant but, while I might not have understood the finer points, hearing the adults talking in hushed voices told me it was serious and dangerous business. Daddy came from a family of eleven boys and one girl. The oldest, Maurice Kelley was in the Sea Bees. Willard and Roy Kelley served in the U.S. Army and Winton, youngest, the Navy. Dad's only sister, Hope Kelley Thomas, lost her husband at Normandy after being married only a short time. My dad joined President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps and was sent from the mid-West to Washington state where he worked in reforestation. Then California on urban renewal projects. He was ever-grateful for the boost at a hard time.


Great-grandfather, Roday Kelley enlisted in the Volunteer Calvary during the Civil War and was wounded when his horse was shot out from under him, then still prone, shot again in the face. He recovered and rejoined his company to fight in the Atlanta Campaign. Dad's aunt Ina Kelley was a veteran of WW I, having served as a U.S. Army Field Clerk.


Mom's older brother Elza Willis, was killed somewhere in Europe a few days before the WW I Armistice. He carried a lock of his baby sister's (my mother's) hair into battle. It was among his few possessions returned to his mother.


Cousins of mine, Jimmie and Floyd Ledbetter served in the Korean War. Jimmie in the Marine Corps. Information about Floyd is lost, although we know he was wounded but survived. My sister Jean's husband, Robert Vetter was a veteran of the Korean War.


Grandma Kelley had a Service Flag, white bordered in red with a blue star for each person serving. If someone was killed, the blue was switched to a gold star and went to the top of the row. Grandma displayed it proudly and rejoiced when all of her four sons came home in good shape. During the war she struggled to feed the younger children and often told the story of how during a particularly hard spell, while praying, she looked up to see a neighbor approaching with huge bundles. He politely asked if she would be offended if he offered her remuneration for doing his ironing. She felt her prayers had been answered and always made the point that God will provide.


We can appreciate that message today with the economy at it's lowest ebb since the depression and many people out of work and struggling to find hope. Write in your journal all the important names and experiences. (In legible handwriting.) One day, years from now your children might want to write about Memorial Day or other stories of family history. Do your part to see that they have all the information they will need.










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