I know our family can go back as far as the Spanish-American War, one not taught in school anymore. My great-grandfather Bernard Grogan fought for the US, in both the Navy and Army before he was even an American. He was also the first in the family to come over from Ireland. Others would follow, some would fight before they came over to the US, some fought for the US after coming over.
Two of my great uncles died during the "troubles" in Ireland after Bloody Sunday. They were two of 1,200 that died within the week following that fateful day; while their sister, my grandmother watched. It was not spoken of in the house.
My grandfather, whom I have written about, Thomas B Connolly was a stretcher bearer or medic in WWI for the Royal Army Medical Corps, Territorial Force (UK) with honor and distinction. He then registered for WWII in the US, but was not called upon.
My other grandfather, who was too young for WWI, was not allowed to fight for the US during WWII, because his youngest daughter had polio. He tried everything he could to go and fight, but a three man committee of officers decided his family needed him more. One of those officers was a black man, and he spoke eloquently about how a father's place is with his sick daughter, did more for race relations than anything the sixties ever did.
I did have two uncles, by marriage, fight in WWII. One brother is laid to rest in France, the other came home. My mother-in-law is dating a dear friend who served in the 5th Mountain Division, US Army during WWII, then served the US Navy as a see-bee. A career man, he still carries himself as a military man, and he's 78 years old.
My father was called up for the Korean War, but in truth, he spent his whole time in France. This was not his doing in any way, just his luck in the draw. The Korean War, what we now call the forgotten war, was horrific. After what his father went through in WWI, maybe God spared him from any further battle time.
I served as a medic and nurse in the US Army, both Reserve and Regular from 1980 to 1989. I left the regular Army, 1989, for a family illness, and by the time that was taken care of, Desert Shield started. My wife said, "God got you out to help my dad, who still needs your help, and I will keep you out." I still count it as a shame for not going back in, but as with my grandfather, family had to come first. I served instead with NYC EMS as a paramedic. I think I saw more shooting in the South Bronx!
My brother served a four year enlistment with the Coast Guard, part of his duty was the rescuing of "boat immigrants" during the 1990's.
I have two daughters, and I would be proud if they choose to serve their country. In 1775 our forefathers fought to be free of tyranny, and it has been proven over and over that freedom is still not free. A blessing to all those who have served on this Veteran's Day.