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Memorial Day Story

In the interest of posting something about war that shows the impact of small acts (or not so small acts) of kindness during wartime, we post this article that was sent to us by a friend. It also demonstrates the long term effects of war on families - generations away from the conflict.

I Am for a Memorial Day Which Truly Remembers
by Penny McManigal

When I was a kid I remember that every Memorial Day at 11:00 (or was it 12:00?) all of the towns' whistles tooted and the church bells rang.  Everyone stopped whatever they were doing to remember those who had died in battle.

As my Navy Lt. Commander father had returned safely from World War II I was always especially grateful and mindful of that fact during the memorialized silence. Next I always remembered the story my grandmother had told me so many times.

During the Civil War my Great-grandfather, William Fredric Hineman of Findlay Ohio, had served as a Union Soldier in the Civil War. He was in his early twenties when his troops wound up in the fierce "Battle of Stone's River" on New Year’s Eve in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1864.

It was New Year's Eve, snowing and bitterly cold. During the night a single bullet tore through his thin Union Jacket, cleanly piercing his lung and exiting at his back. Will dropped to the ground bleeding profusely, alone and unconscious among dead soldiers piled around him on  that dark night. As the New Year's early morning light filtered softly across the snowy battlefield a Southern couple from the area moved slowly through the many torn bodies. Somehow they came upon my Great-grandfather and found that he was still alive, although barely. Working together they managed to get Will onto their wagon and into their farmhouse, where they then began to tend to his serious wound. In actual fact my Union soldier Great-grandfather stayed with that Southern couple in their farmhouse for several months until he was finally strong enough to return to Ohio, carrying his Union jacket with its two holes, along with him.

After his return to Ohio he married my Great-grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Moffet, and they later had seven children (Including twins.) My Great-grandfather, William, eventually died of complications related to that old Civil War injury to his lung.

When I was a young woman in my early twenties my grandparents gave me his historical bullet-torn coat. That coat always served as my Teacher as I tried to grapple with the horrors of war. If that Southern couple had not saved my ancestor he would never have married and had children, the last of whom was my direct antecedent! In fact I therefore owe my very own life to the kindness of those unknown southern strangers, whose morality was deeper than the symbol of an enemy flag, wider than a battlefield and higher than any gun could ever shoot.

So every Memorial Day I honor both those who have died fighting for our freedom, as well as those whose code of ethics works hard to preserve the peace. I do not think in the black and white terms of "peace at any price" but rather "Where there's a Will there's a way." Today that old coat lies tattered and torn in a chest at the foot of our bed, the moth holes and bullet holes all running together, except for the identifying red stitching around one particular hole on the front of the jacket and one out the back.

Yes, I remember and share this story every Memorial Day.

Penny McManigal  

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Reader Comments (1)

MEMORIAL DAY 2015 IS THE BEST EVER EVENT where people do rember the ones who have sacrificed themselves
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Memorial day weekend

March 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMemorial day 2015

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