Memorial Day

Others may see it differently, but I regard the two observances — Memorial Day and Veterans Day — to be for military men and women who died as a result of war, or who survived their wartime service and returned to civilian life, respectively.

As a result, on Memorial Day I remember the eldest brother of my great-great grandfather, who died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where his Army of the Cumberland under Union Major General William Rosecrans met Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee over the turn of 1862 to 1863. The battle was part of the Union campaign to claim Chattanooga and eventually reach Atlanta. From Atlanta the federals drove to the coast, cutting the already truncated Confederacy into even smaller pieces.

Private Richard McGehee, a sharpshooter for the 42nd Indiana Infantry, was one of three brothers who served in the U.S. Army during that war; my great-great grandfather was one of them but he and the other brother returned from the war and resumed their lives as husbands and fathers. Richard had been a husband and father too, but wounds suffered in the battle claimed his life on January 7, 1863.

The military service of my great-great grandfather, like that of my father, I commemorate in November.