Monday, May 27, 2013

A Memorial Day Tribute

I come from a devout military family that, up until my generation, treks back hundreds of years throughout Europe. My father was a Navy man, my mother an Army brat, and the military representation just keeps going.

I'm blessed because my mom's side of the family traces itself through the Duval Family Association, which documents a very well-documented family hailing from France and arriving in the U.S. while fleeing religious persecution in 1701. (Think Catholics marrying Hugeonots!) These folks rubbed elbows with George Washington and other well-known historical giants.

But let's get to honoring so many of my family members who defended freedom.

My dad's dad, Joseph Edwards, was a military man who served during World War II in France, but what he did there I'll never know because the facility that held his military records burned down in the 1950s or 60s, which I find hugely disappointing. What I do know is that he ended up in France after the liberation, but I don't know what he did there, what his rank was, or anything like that. Joseph -- my middle name sake -- died of a heart attack on August 17, 1965, just 11 days after my dad turned 12 years old (his mother died a few years prior).

My mom's dad, John Baskette, was a Navy man who served during World War II in Pearl Harbor -- and yes, he was there when the attacks of December 7, 1941 happened. He spent his entire life in the military, and when my mom was born he was stationed in France. He died in April 2007 after quite a long life devoted to retelling what happened at Pearl Harbor. When I was in Middle School in Joplin, Missouri, I got to do a huge report on my grandfather and even borrowed my dad's old Navy uniform and dressed up like him.

Much further back, we're talking Civil War time, I have oodles of family that served. John Howard Baskette was born in 1829 and died in 1884 and was a Colonel of the 68th Regiment of Tennessee Militia of Coffee Company (mmm ... coffee). Then there was Dr. William Turner Baskette (the aformentioned's father) who was caught three times by the North while traversing across the war line. His house still stands today in Mufreesboro, Tennessee, where the local Women's Club now meets.

William's father, Abraham, was a private in the War of 1812, and his father William Semple Baskette was a Baptist minister in Virginia who was a Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War.

There are dozens of other members of my family that served in the military, but I think this will suffice. I wish I knew more about my father's family line, but with his parents having died so young, there are a million questions I didn't get to ask and will probably never get the answers I need.

So here's to soldiers -- past, present, and future -- who fight for peace, freedom, and liberty!