The Spectrum of Emotion

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.

WEW Biography by WEW

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).

WEW_1946_with_President_Truman

WEW news clip about medal

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:

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/george-stevens-whitehead-part-2/

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.

WEW 1946-letter

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.

Remembrance Poppies

Has it really been three years?

I got an email from Word Press stating that it has been three years I have been blogging.  I know now that the goal I set for myself was unrealistic.  What really happens when I decide to write a blog, is I have to go research the missing pieces.  This in itself is a great exercise because it focuses my attention on the subject at hand.  However, what it also does is slow things way down.  It takes a lot of time to explore backwards.  I want to have some facts but I also wish for some character sketches as well.  But please know if I am not blogging I am still doing the research that I love and uncovering the mysteries of our families past.

 

Today is Memorial Day, as I sit here and type, I am thinking of all my ancestors that fought in the wars of our country.  I also think of all the men and women who have served.  Whatever you do today, take a minute of quiet reflection and think about all the soldiers we have lost during our wars.  Then take a minute to think of the multitude of family members they left behind.  There have been great poems and memorials written and constructed to remember the fallen.

Below is the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Major John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor and Artillery Commander.  It is believed he wrote this poem after giving a burial service for his friend during a battle of WWI.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Found on http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

 

Moina Belle Michael, an American teacher, wrote a poem in response to In Flanders Field.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2

She then conceived of the idea of wearing poppy flowers as a way to remember and commemorate the fallen soldiers and also to benefit them with the sale of poppies.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

If you see a Veteran today asking for a donation, offering you a plastic poppy flower, you will know the true reason for this gesture.

Who are the fallen heroes in your life?  Take a moment today to remember them, I know I will.

 

What is a Quartermaster?

What is a Quartermaster? That is what I wanted to know. My great-grandfather Walter Everett Whitehead was a Quartermaster. I have written about him many times. However, I continue to find new things about him. As you know, Walter Everett Whitehead was a very patriotic man. He was involved in three wars, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.

After I read that, I wondered how that was even possible for him to be involved in three wars. According to a snippet from newspaper, The Constitution, it mentioned that Walter served in the Spanish-American War. Walter would have been 29 years old when President McKinley asks Congress to go to War on April 11, 1898 (Spanish-American War Chronology). I do not have any genealogical proof of his participation, but I am still looking.

During World War I, even though he was too old to enlist (approximately 50 years old); he found other ways to get involved. He was a Quartermaster at Camp Joseph E. Johnson in Florida in 1918.

I have not read volumes about the military, nor have I ever been a military buff. However, as you delve into genealogy, you begin to read about the life and times of your ancestors. Here is a bit, of what I learned.

Quartermaster officers are responsible for making sure equipment, materials and systems are available and functioning for missions. More specifically, the quartermaster officer provides supply support for Soldiers and units in field services, aerial delivery, and material and distribution management (Quartermaster Officer, 2015).

You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartermaster_Corps_%28United_States_Army%29

Essentially the Quartermaster services are like a large mail order house, whereby different supplies are requested and distributed.

While visiting the Carlton home, I found some treasures of his military service. There was a little ledger that he used to take notes. It was dated October 1918. My great-grandfather took some notes in this little ledger. One of the things that he wrote was a lecture he attended on 18 October 1918, about Influenza in Horses. He would attend the interval camps in connection with Remount Service. I had to learn what Remount Service meant as well. Walter’s assignment meant that he oversaw the procurement and training of horses for the US Army.

You can read more about it here: http://www.qmfound.com/remount1.htm

 

During my genealogical visit to Walter’s home, I scanned a few important military papers. I did not have enough time to scan everything that I wanted to but I have a few.  That just means I will have to go back!

There was a correspondence dated 19 September 1928, which reappointed Walter as captain in the Army of the United States. He was 60 years old at this time. He was still serving his country as a Quartermaster Reserve Captain. The next year on 17 May 1929, he was promoted to Major.

While he was serving his Country, Walter continued to serve his home state of Georgia. I have a letter dated January 11, 1932, announcing that Walter was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Aide de Camp for Governor Richard B. Russell. He was 64 years old.

Another correspondence that I was able to scan was from the Governor’s office appointing Walter to the Madison County Selective Service Board on 17 October 1940. He eventually became the Draft Board Chairman.

Walter attempted to join the service during World War II, but was denied after physical examination. He was 76 years old!

Whitehead Honored

Whitehead Honored

In 1946, Walter was invited to Washington DC to represent Georgia’s Draft Board Chairman for their contributions to the war effort. He was 78 years old. Walter and his son Joe attended. President Truman pinned the Selective Service Medal during this ceremony. What a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving his state and country.

Harry Truman & Walter Whitehead

Harry Truman & Walter Whitehead

Mr. Whitehead goes to Washington

Mr. Whitehead goes to Washington

In addition to all of this, he also served as a Georgia State Senator on two occasions. I will discuss those terms at a future time.


Sources:

Quartermaster Duties. Retrieved from http://www.Goarmy.com on November 13, 2015

Spanish-American War Chronology retrieved on November 21 2015, at http://www.spanamwar.com/timeline.htm

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards!