Our class is conducting original research into the lives of American men and women who served in WWI; until now their stories have never been told. As we read their letters and diaries, as we studied the documents associated with their lives, as we looked at photographs of them and photographs they had taken during the war and after, as we held in our hands objects they once held in theirs, we all started to feel a sense of closeness with these Americans who served in a war that ended nearly a century ago. Though each of them has a burial place, and though each burial place is their sacred memorial, we feel honored that we could do something to show that their lives are remembered, that they did make a difference, that they were once loved and that they once sacrificed, and that perhaps there is something in the record of what they did that will serve to instruct or inspire others and reaffirm for everybody that our lives do mean something. They have helped us realize that the journey of our lives is somehow, somewhere, going to make a difference.
Mrs. Katharine Millar, daughter of YMCA Captain David Frederick Holmes and niece of AEF Army Private Floyd King, two of our biographical subjects, was more than instructive when she wrote to us, “Thanks for letting me think about the subject again. Memories are what I live on now. Most of them good as I have had a wonderful life that is still a blessing.”
To Mrs. Millar, and all who have shared with my students and me precious family documents and memories, we say, “You have blessed us.”