I would like to pay tribute to a couple of the men in our family who gave their lives in defense of their country. Being a student of our family history, I have seen what price their immediate families have paid as a result of their service, and as a result, have a much better appreciation for our military men and women, and their families.
Delbert Dee Graves, 1891 - 1918, died in World War I, in France. He was the only son of Thomas and Nettie Graves. He joined the American Expeditionary Forces (aka "Doughboys") on June 27, 1918, and was assigned to Co. H of the 351st Infantry. After training, he was sent overseas to England on Aug. 28, 1918, and then to France shortly afterward. He worked in difficult circumstances, cold and damp, and his mother would knit him sweaters because he just could not keep warm enough in his surroundings. As a result he contracted an illness which led to scarlet fever, and died in a makeshift military hospital in France. He was buried in France, but a few years later was brought home to a hero's welcome in his small town of Carthage, South Dakota, and buried in Pleasant View Cemetery. The American Legion Post in Carthage was named in honor of him. Delbert was my great-grandmother's younger brother; he had worked as a drayman, carpenter and farmer, in conjunction with his father, and enjoyed raising hounds.
Raymond Christensen, 1914 - 1944, was killed in action in World War II. He interrupted his education at the University of Minnesota to enlist, and enrolled in officers training school in Florida. He was a flight officer in the 417th Night Fighter Squadron. He was one of a crew of two in an English Beau Fighter, and flew some of the most dangerous missions in the war. He was initially listed as Missing in Action, but his status was later changed to Killed in Action over Sicily, on May 13, 1944. He is still remembered for his wit and humor. He sold insurance policies while he put himself through school at the University of Minnesota and the St. Paul Agricultural College. He was a masterful practical joker. He was my grandmother's younger brother, and my grandfather's best friend.
Delbert and Raymond's families bore tremendous pain and long-lasting implications at the loss of their sons/brothers, as do the families of all fallen soldiers. It's so easy to forget that this holiday is more than a three-day weekend, filled with camping, fishing, cookouts, etc. It's a day to remember and honor these men, and their families who paid a huge price for all we enjoy in the U. S. today. Take some time to remember all of them with gratitude.