“Why CGS members volunteered for the Purple Hearts Reunited ‘WWI 100th Anniversary Tribute’ Research Project”
by Marsha Peterson-Maass, CGS Board Member and a PHR Valor Research Team Director
In only about three weeks, we’re making tremendous progress on this project with nearly 1/3 of our 33 WWI veterans’ lives researched and their living next of kin identified! THANK YOU CGS MEMBERS, YOU’RE THE BEST!
In case you’re not yet familiar with the Purple Hearts Reunited ‘WWI 100th Anniversary Tribute’ Research Project — the non-profit foundation, Purple Hearts Reunited (“PHR”), will reunite 100 American families with their lost WWI veterans’ Purple Heart Medals during one week in April 2017 to commemorate WWI’s 100th Anniversary — and CGS has offered this unique researching opportunity exclusively to its members to research 33 WWI veterans’ lives and identify their living next of kin to help PHR in this incredible mission.
Who are our over 30 volunteers? Approximately 70% are currently living in the Chicagoland area with the other 30% from other states including Arkansas, California, Michigan and Utah. Their current or past professions include dermatology, staff at the Kellogg School of Management-Northwestern University, robotics engineering, probate research, office administration, “domestic engineering,” IT-rollouts for a big box retailer, CPA recruiting, financial aid administration at the University of Chicago, nursing, fiction writing, professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, librarianship, registered nurse consultant in health care computer systems, tax accounting, commercial real estate development and four professional genealogists. And we have one outstanding mother-and-daughter team that I have dubbed our “Dream Team!”
Why have these CGS Members volunteered for this important research mission? In their own words . . .
- “I am a veteran of the U.S. Army.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
- “As total genealogy nerds, we would hope that if anyone ever found such an important part of our family’s history that they would take the time to try and locate us. These veterans and their families deserve to be honored for their sacrifice.” ~ two CGS family members from Arkansas and the Chicagoland area.
- “I enjoy steeping myself in the lives and stories of those gone before, and I think to gather and enter their scattered facts under names in digital repositories honors and secures those lives. Sometimes, as in the case of [one source I found in my research, this veteran’s] letter home to his mother after he was wounded, I stumbled upon an actual voice in space and time. What a simple and stunning piece of luck that is, like the sound of a penny come back from the wishing well.” ~ a CGS memberfrom the Chicagoland area.
- “I volunteered because I just love researching new families. Every family has an interesting story!” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
- “I am overwhelmed when I read stories of The Great War and also WWII and am so moved by all of those who served their country in any of our conflicts. It moves me to tears when I have read all that was given in my husband’s family, my own, and the others that I have created family trees for. We must never forget the sacrifices these young people gave to make our lives safer and better.” ~ a CGS member from Michigan.
- “For some time I have been looking for a way to ‘give back’ as a volunteer. I knew I wanted to work with an organization in whose mission I believed, and I also wanted to find an opportunity that would allow me to use my talents and experience in a meaningful way. As a military spouse and a life-long student of history, Purple Hearts Reunited really touched a chord with me.” ~ a CGS member from Utah.
- “I am affiliated with the VFW in researching veterans who do not have grave markers and obtaining same.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
- “My cousin was Killed In Action in 1944 (WWII) in the South Pacific. The Marines kept their promise, ‘No Man Forgotten, No Man Left Behind,’ and in 2012, 68 years later, my cousin’s remains were repatriated to our family’s gravesite in Illinois. Paying forward our family’s gratitude by helping reunite other families with their loved ones’ Purple Hearts and life stories is truly my honor and privilege.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
- “I have been doing Genealogy for the past 15 years and any part of our ancestors past is so important for families to possess. I have the utmost respect for the Veterans who have served.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area
- “I have family / ancestors that served as WWI soldiers and I thought it would be interesting. Also it is a way to use genealogy to help others get interested.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
- “This is a great way to give back and show my appreciation for all that was done.” ~ a CGS member from the Chicagoland area.
From all of us in the Purple Hearts Reunited ‘WWI 100th Anniversary Tribute’ Research Project, we extend our thanks to The Chicago Genealogical Society for offering this unique research opportunity!