Monday, May 31, 2010

In Service of 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.

Today I write in honor and respect of those who came to this country to make a free life for themselves, and those who have served to protect and defend our country. Read on if you will, or pass by. This is simply a tribute to those in my family who have served.

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Colors of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Civil War Reenactors

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.

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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 to train. 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 read 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.

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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 17 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. His was working to save money for a 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.

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Cousin Charles Sheldon served two tours in Vietnam. He was a career man, older than the troops he commanded. 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 Kathro, 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".

(This entry is republished from my photoblog,

Want to learn more about the history of Memorial Day? Read this:



chocolatechic said...

Thank you to your family.

Vee said...

Suzanne, it is easy to see that you do remember and I'm glad that you've written it down so that it can not only be a family remembrance, but also a national one. Incredible lives. Your family has served this nation long and well. Blessings to you this Memorial Day!

Susan said...

What a wonderful tribute, Suzanne. Thank you for sharing. My husband was at Ft. Knox 67-68.

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

What a rich and wonderful, proud rich American heritage you have! So proud that you can tell their stories today, and that we are still the land of the free and the home of the brave....such bravery! LOVE your stories and your history!

Snappy Di said...

Hubby served in Viet Nam 71-73.

Thank you for the service your family gave to our country. How appreciate they truly are.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping us remember too. You have a great personal history.
I am so glad to are back writing. Linda

Thirkellgirl said...

Have you ever taken the tour of the Midway? It's very interesting, although I did reach a point a few hours in where all the planes on the top deck started looking the same to me. My dad's ship, an aircraft carrier, is currently in dry-dock just around the corner, so to speak, from your dad's ship.

Sarah Hucks said...

It's obvious that you are so proud of your family and their willingness to serve our country. I am grateful for their patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for all of the rest of us. God bless!

Jamie said...

That is a great picture of Ft Bragg. I live near the base now and it looks NOTHING like that. (it's due to expand in the very near future, too)