Thursday, July 2, 2009

Justice, Choices and Freedom

Photo: Headstone of Matthew McCrickert, date unknown, Calvary Cemetery, Queens, NY. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009.

[This post was written for the 75th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Colleen at Orations of OMcHodoy]

As I get ready to celebrate our nation's 233rd birthday, I'm reminded of all my ancestors who were willing to risk their lives in military service defending their country for causes in which they believed. At least I'd like to think that this is the reason they served - they had a strong held belief in the basic tenets upon which the United States was formed: justice, choices and freedom.

If it were not for all my ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War (David Everett, Jonathan Everett, Cornelius Krom, Wigglesworth Messenger, and Frederick Visscher) and the Civil War (Alonso Sylvester Austin, Crandall William Austin, Franklin Duane Austin, Grinman Austin, Harlow Austin, Seymour Austin, Phillip DeGroodt, and David O'Keefe), I along with the rest of their descendants would most likely be living under much different conditions than we are today.

Men like my cousin Matthew McCrickert who died on July 11, 1946 in a military plane crash in Freehold, New Jersey served in peace time as well, not only to pursue a career but also to make certain that the freedoms for which my ancestors had fought remained in place.

Whether their surnames were Austin or Everett or McCrickert, whether they had been in this country since its founding or had just arrived from distant shores, these men had commonality in this:

that in order to ensure that future generations are allowed the same opportunities of justice, choices and freedom, one must be willing to put one's life in jeopardy in defense of those opportunities

I am certain, like my cousin Kenneth VonRonn who was killed in Iraq in 2005, the choices were not easy. Families were left behind, careers were disrupted, and some never came home. But those choices continue to exist - for me and for all - only because of the sacrifices made by these men.

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