Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Family Was Here

Family from all over showed up for the reunion. 
I can’t say I have ever been one for big Independence Day celebrations. I have watched the fireworks from a variety of vantage points from the comfort of the living room on the television screen, in Philadelphia, at the New Jersey shore, at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, and while lying on the grass in my BDUs in central Missouri. However, while the temporary bright lights in the sky were never something that really interested me a lot, the day has always had tremendous meaning. While I didn’t quite understand it early in life, there was still always something a little different about the day.

Of course, now I have a much more complete understanding of what makes this day such a big part of who I am. And I am not talking about the reasons that this day is important to us all, I am talking about the connection that I have, that my family has, to this day and what generations have done since to defend this country. And with those thoughts fresh in my mind, it was particularly special to celebrate this holiday with family, with the whole family, as we gathered together this weekend in Virginia.

And when I say the whole family I really mean it. This is a little different than what usually comes to mind when someone mentions a family reunion. This is not simply the immediate members that you see here and there, this particular reunion brings together all those who can trace back their genealogy to our original immigrant ancestor, Jacob Duffordt, who arrived at the Port of Philadelphia aboard the Hero on the 27th of October 1764. There are thousands in our tree with a small sampling making the trip this year to the mountains of Virginia.

As you can tell by the date, we were here before the revolution and beginning with the simple act of Jacob Duffordt selling supplies to the Continental Army, we have taken an active role in supporting and defending this country. From Jacob Duffordt during the Revolution, to his grandson during the War of 1812, countless relatives during the Civil War, my grandfather and his siblings during World War II, my father in Vietnam, and others in the family who have served more recently. All have given of themselves to ensure that this holiday remains as a day to be celebrated.

Celebrating this day with family, with multiple generations, in a place near where we originally settled is what this holiday is about for me. This was about as close to a perfect representation of the holiday that I can recall and one that I hope to relive many times over in the future. This is our holiday, part of our history, and a reminder of all the generations that came before us and the ones that still lay ahead. We have to remember our history and continue to pass on what we have learned and the experiences we have had so that future generations can look back on this day and experience the same connection.

Four generations!