Monday, May 26, 2008

In Service to God and Country

Families were uprooted and expelled from Scotland by the English king. My great-great-great grandfather, Robert Nesbitt and his family arrived by ship into Charleston harbor, somewhere around 1767. They lived in South Carolina until Robert and his brother John were conscripted to serve in the Revolutionary War. They served to ensure the birth of a new nation, where they could live and worship freely.

After the war, the brothers were given military land grants in what is now Dickson County, Tennessee. They traveled there to claim their land, along with two younger brothers. The four brothers, Robert, John, Jeremiah and Nathan, settled the land, and family members still live within a 5 mile radius of the original homesteads location.

There are no photos from this period, but great grandfather James Lewis Nesbitt served in the Confederate Army, Company B, 14th Tennessee Regiment of the General Archie Brigade. Rural life at this time was tenuous at best, and the women and children left behind had to keep the farm going. This was subsistance farming and if they were not successful they would not survive. Letters home reflected the men's concerns about the childrens health, and whether or not the wife had been able to obtain salt. Salt was vital to preserved the meat when a hog was butchered in the fall. This meat was essential for the family to exist through the winter.

George Washington Newton, my paternal grandfather, served in World War I. It was quite an adventure for a simple country farmer to travel to Vancouver, Washington for training. The photos from this period in time were actually postcards, as soldiers would not have access to a camera. The back of this postcard, which shows the soldiers setting up camp, reads, "This is a beautiful place. Say, I suppose you are almost ready to plow corn. So long, George."


George's brother, Tinnoman Newton, also served in World War I. He trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is still one of the largest training facilities. He also sent a postcard.


My father, Franklin Ray Newton, enlisted in the U.S. Navy 6 months after the attack at Pearl Harbor. He had just graduated from high school. His service included tours on destroyers and the U.S.S. Midway. He was aboard his ship in the Sea of Japan the day the treaty was signed with the Japanese government, ending the war. This photograph hung in his bedroom as long as I can remember, up until his death 20 years ago. The U.S.S. Midway is now a floating museum, docked in San Diego.


After discharge my father married my mother and started a family. He was working and they were saving money to buy their first home when he was called back into the Navy to serve in the Korean war. One thing I will say about his generation is that they were not whiners. Not a word was every said about having their plans disrupted to serve his country again. He served, was discharged a second time and they got on with their lives.

His brother, Jackie Newton enlisted in the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor and served in the European theater. He was a German prisoner of war for over two years, returning to his beloved Florida panhandle where he farmed peanuts, cotton and sugar cane. He still lives within 3 miles of the family homestead.

Cousin Charles Sheldon served two tours in Vietnam. He was a career man, older than the troops he commanded. He died of a heart attack while serving in Vietnam. His half brother Mack Nolen was an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy for 25 years, serving also in Vietnam. My husband Paul (the Farmer) was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966, serving at Fort Knox, Kentucky during the Vietnam war.

To all these men I say, "I remember".


lifeinredshoes said...

Thank for the heartfelt reminder, you always hit the nail on the head!

kathi~lavender, lace and thyme said...

Suzanne, what a wonderful tribute to your family...priceless ending!

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne,

That was a truly touching tribute to your family members that served. Rich never whines either, but he has sleep issues and thinks he's still there in his nightmares. He doesn't like to talk about it.

No, freedom is not free.

Please thank your husband for his service. God Bless our troops.


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

What a legacy of patriots you have in your family! Not many of us know our family's story as far back as 1767. How fascinating!

Obviously, you don't get your prolific ways from your Granpa George. :D