Honoring Military Service

Today is Veterans Day in the United States, and I get a day off work, not for anything that I have earned, but because of the sacrifices of tens of thousands who have gone before.

Originally known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of the first World War, the official holiday became Veterans Day in 1954 so as to honor the service of military personnel in all wars.  Veterans Affairs has a more detailed history of the observance on their website.

If you do nothing else today, thank a veteran for his or her service. Setting politics aside, the individuals in the United States Military deserve our respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made in the name of defending our freedoms. You may not ever see this, but Justin, Mike, James, Nick, Tom, Dick, Jac, Chris, Matthew, Mary, Nelson, Tony, Ben: thank you!

If you are so inclined, I encourage you to research the stories of your veteran ancestors. I believe that recording the tales of our veterans' service and sacrifice is crucial so that future generations can understand more fully their rights and responsibilities as Americans.

Myself, I am just starting to dig into the military history of my family, and I am finding that I have much for which to be personally grateful. Here are some very incomplete sketches of three veterans on my mother's side of the family.

Richard Allen Pride (10.0; my maternal grandfather) was born in December 1922. At age 21, he enlisted in the Army at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on 27 March 1944 and went on to train in artillery and celestial navigation at Camp Hood, Texas. He was sent to Hawaii and then onward to the Pacific theater of the Second World War. 

Following the war, Richard served in Korea, assisting in the repatriation of Japanese POWs. He returned to the United States in April 1946, married three weeks later to Dorothy Crump in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed his last year of studies at Iowa State College. He retired from the US Army Reserves with the rank of Major on 31 May 1961, though his government employment as a NASA engineer continued until 1980. He will turn 92 next month, just before Christmas.

Harold Ellwood Pride (20.0; my great-grandfather) grew up in Iowa at the turn of the 20th century, the son of a local sheriff. At the first call for troops during the First World War, he registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 from Manchester, Iowa, where he was a 23-year-old engineering student. By his wedding in December of that year to Mary Elizabeth Montgomery, Harold was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army; the new couple's first home was Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he served as an artillery instructor at the Officer's Training Camp there. 

Following the war, Harold entered the Army Reserves and returned to Iowa, where he was instrumental in starting the Memorial Union at Iowa State College in 1928. In the mid-1930's, now-Lt. Colonel Pride commanded the 507th Regiment of the Coast Artillery and served on the Executive Council of the United States Coast Artillery Association. When the United States entered World War II, Harold took an extended leave of absence from his responsibilities as Director of the Memorial Union to serve again with military intelligence in the Middle East and China. Family lore tells that he once had dinner with Chiang Kai-Shek, the president of the Republic of China.

At the time of his retirement from the military on 31 May 1954, Colonel Pride was Assistant Commander of the 103rd Army Reserve Infantry "Cactus" Division. Harold continued as the Memorial Union Director until 1959 and Secretary of the Union Corporation until 1972. He was still a regular presence at the Union while in his 90s. Harold died on 13 April 1988 and is buried in University Cemetery in Ames, Iowa.

Columbus Christopher Pride (80.0; my great-great-great-grandfather) was born on 28 December 1838, in Indiana. Columbus grew up in Jefferson Township, in the northwest portion of Pike County in southern Indiana. His parents were Benjamin (born about 1802 in Kentucky or North Carolina) and Catherine (née Traylor) Pride (born about 1798 in Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina), and Columbus was one of at least five brothers.  Benjamin and Catherine were married in May of 1822 in Pike County, IN.

On 10 October 1861, Columbus mustered in to the 42nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry as a Private in Company G. He is listed as residing in Daviess County, Indiana, at the time. Other Pride men listed from Company G and Daviess County were Edwin W Pride, Elijah Pride, Hubbard Pride, Josiah T Pride, Thomas G Pride, and William Pride. (It's likely that all these Prides are related somehow, but that's a project for another day. If you have a connection to the Prides of southwest Indiana, let me know!)

He was wounded and captured by the Confederacy at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, on 20 September 1863. Columbus was held as a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison in Georgia until his exchange in Tennessee on 14 November 1864.

Family tradition tells that while Columbus was in Andersonville prison, he lost all his teeth, and at the end of the war, he crawled out of the prison on his hands and knees.

Columbus mustered out of Company G, 42nd Indiana, on 16 May 1865. He returned home to Pike County to marry Sarah Perkey later that year. They went on to have four children, moving to Nebraska, and eventually settling in Iowa. Columbus died 28 July 1924 and is buried in Manchester, Iowa.

Time is too short here to tell of all my veteran ancestors. Others that I know of are:
  • Dr. Benjamin F. Stevens - Civil War (Co. D, 59th Illinois Volunteers)
  • James Gilmore Anderson - Black Hawk War of 1832 
  • Willis Capps - War of 1812 (East Tennessee State Militia)
  • Joseph Preston Yadon - Revolutionary War (drummer boy for the British, then the Americans!)
  • Richard Robertson - Revolutionary War (North Carolina militia)
  • Joseph Kilgore - Revolutionary War (Pennsylvania militia)
  • Micah Chaplin - Revolutionary War (1st Regiment from New Hampshire)
  • William McAdams - Revolutionary War (North Carolina militia)
And that's just on my side of the family. My wife has many other veterans in her line, including an ancestor that fought for the Confederacy at Chickamauga. I wonder if he and my Columbus Pride were near each other at all!

What veterans do you have in your family history? Have you ever applied to a lineage society like Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War? Are you a veteran? If so, I encourage you to pass along your stories to your children and grandchildren. I can tell you from personal experience that we want to know!

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