I have been full of emotions since coming back from Georgia. As I am putting together the life and times of my ancestors, I have found a series of events that are heart wrenching.
One of the many treasures that I have gathered was some of his personal papers from his life. It seems that there was this large blue plastic tub that was wrapped up that held some records that Sara’s mother or grandmother thought was important. It has turned into a treasure trove. It is in this collection that the story emerged. I have pieced together a time line for you.
As discussed previously, my great-grandfather was a very patriotic man. He found ways to serve his country even when his age and physical limitations prohibited it. Here is a snippet that he wrote for the Selective Service Medal Ceremony in 1946 when he was 77 years old.
On 21 January 1946, my great-grandfather, Walter Everett Whitehead appeared in the East Room of the White House to receive the Selective Service Medal from President Harry Truman. What an incredible honor for a Patriot such as Walter, or Papa. He took his middle son, Walter “Joe” as his guest. The event commemorated draft board members that served their country in faithful service during the “emergency” (WWII).
One day later on 22 January 1946, at 12:46 PM a telegram from Bay Pines Veterans Hospital was sent to the Stevens Martin Company in care of Joe (he was the executor of George Steven’s Estate), stating that his condition is considered critical. Joe and his father Walter were still in Washington DC. Later that same day, a telegram was sent from the Stevens Martin Company to Joe or Walter in Washington DC stating the same. George died two days later.
We can only speculate what thoughts were going through Walter and Joe’s minds as they boarded the train back to Georgia with these heavy thoughts. He had suffered complications due to surgery he had. You can read more about him here:
On 27 January 1946, George Stevens Whitehead, WWI veteran was laid to rest in the family cemetery. He was only 49 years old.
The very next day, Walter stood in honor at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium being honored with the Selective Service Medal and Certificate of Merit at the State Ceremony.
One can only imagine what emotions the family would be feeling. On one hand, being so proud of the well-deserved recognition for a true Patriot and on the other hand, mourning the loss of a Rhodes Scholar Brilliant man cut short in his life. What a week that must have been.
Until later, I will be exploring backwards.