Celebrating those who sacrificed for us

Published 10:10 pm Saturday, May 28, 2011

John Finley Reeves was my great-grandfather, a man born in Ohio and who raised a family in Indiana.

But, what inspires me to introduce my great-grandfather is not what kind of family man he was, the life he led or the philosophies he handed down. It’s none of those, well, simply because I don’t know much about him; other than many people referred to him as “Finn.”

I know that as of the 1920 Census he had four children, one of which, William, died in service to his country in World War II. William would have been my great-uncle.

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I know that over four Censuses in his life, he held four different occupations categorized as a servant, a tire scraper, employed at a grocery store and with the Veterans of Foreign War.

The person who would be my grandfather, James, was not listed on the 1920 Census. He would come a year later and would serve in World War II, the war that took his brother.

No, the reason I am about writing about John Finley Reeves is because of two simple documents found this week by a cousin.

The first was a draft registration card filled out during World War I when he was 37, and the other a draft registration card filled out during World War II when he was 61.

These two registration cards made me think of that time and what must have been going through his mind as the country he lived in and would serve, was about to enter into two major wars.

But, yet, with all of that on his mind, and a family to take care of, he did what he was called to do, stepped up and registered.

It is that type of service to country that millions like my great-grandfather did during those two wars and what millions of others have done since. As we celebrate this Memorial Day holiday, I have traditionally written about the meaning of the weekend; about how it is not about the official start of summer or an opportunity to head to the beach or grill out with friends.

The holiday is not for those purposes, but rather it is a holiday to honor and remember the sacrifices of so many men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

It is those men and women, the ones who never had the chance to return home to the arms of their families, who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy today. The look back at my great-grandfather was something I will always cherish and affords me a glimpse of a person I never knew.

There may be plenty of faults with the man they called “Finn” but what I have learned thus far is something to be proud of.