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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day: Gateway to Summer

Memorial Day is a little like Thanksgiving Day holiday in that there is only the celebration of the day and the events that are commemorated. I don't feel obligated to send cards and things for Memorial Day -- just thanks expressed for the time itself. But I certainly remember back in my growing up days in the Chicago suburbs enjoying Memorial Day or Decoration Day. I always associated the day with the events of World War I, but it seems that the day was started in 1868 to honor those who fought in the (Union side) Civil War. Two events I recall happening on Memorial Day in the 1950s were, one, the Indy 500 mile race and two, trips to the Indiana State Dunes:

Here is a view back to Chicago from the dunes. It was always a challenge to jump into Lake Michigan on that day -- the water was freezing -- but we did it to prove that we were up to it. The other event I mentioned, I never actually got to visit:

But -- I may be wrong about this but even though our town was a little less than 200 miles away I am almost sure that we could hear the roar of the engines, ever faintly, but in my mind distinctively so. Race talk was always big in our town on Memorial Day and it was fun to follow the happenings. I remember Tony Bettenhausen in the 1950s who actually came to visit our High School's driver's ed class and gave a great motivational talk about driving . . . this is the 100 anniversary of the race.

But there are memories of honoring those from our family who have already departed and so it was a time of reflection as well. One thing that it is used visually of course are the grave stones and markers. One HILES marker that is probably the most impressive that I've seen is that of George Hiles. Now, if I could just prove that George Hiles was in my direct line of ancestors . . .

This is the memorial to George and it is found in the Dexterville Cemetery in Wood County, Wisconsin. There are those that say we are connected, but I have yet to see the evidence supporting that. George was a very influential businessman in Wisconsin as you might imagine. If any of you have the proof of a connection to our line -- please share it.

And just recently I found a website (and an app) that I think could have huge benefits for the genealogical community:

It is like Find-A-Grave but gives any of us the capability to take pictures of gravestones with our iPhones  -- any family -- and the app from the iPhone will allow the photos to be sent to a grave image database for all to access. Also volunteers at the website will transcribe the information found on the stones so that is available as well. What a great resource! Please check out the website at:

Lastly our collective hats are off to all those who have served our country!

Have a great three day weekend!  (It is going to be Slider Sunday this week)

See you all in a few . . .

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