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October 10, 2003 - 8:01 a.m.
Most of us remember what we were doing the morning of 9/11 2001. Many of us remember the day the Challenger space shuttle exploded. Some of us even remember the day that Armstrong walked on the moon or the Vietnam War. Most of us weren’t alive during World War II or the Great Depression…. But someone in our family was. I’m not sure when I decided that I wanted to research my family tree. It might have been because one of my grade school teachers assigned it as a project, but more likely it was the countless stories I heard around the kitchen table at my grandmother’s farm. I really don’t remember how it started, but at some point those stories made history come alive for me. When I can place someone from my own family in historical events it’s exciting, it memorable.
If you haven’t already stepped into the world of personal research, you may wonder how you would start on such a project. It is good to know that there is a multitude of public information available, from Census Records that become publicly available 75 years after the census is taken to Birth and Death Records and Church records. These are all good ways to get dates and places. This is how you can create a lineage, but more then that it gives you a place to start to collect the real family history, the stuff that helps you to figure out how you got here - the stories. Family Photos… who do I look like? What did Grandma look like 50 years ago? Once you have photographs in hand, you want to know… what were these people like? Perhaps there are old scrapbooks collecting dust in grandma’s attic. There is information to be found if you look.
Repeat the stories you’ve heard, write them down, share them. Write down what you remember about The First Walk on the Moon…. Or what was happening in your life when the Challenger Space shuttle exploded. It might not seem that interesting to you now, but believe me, when you have grandchildren they’ll be in awe that you were ACTUALLY ALIVE during these events. In the same way that stories of the Great Depression or World War I and II amaze me. The stories I’ve heard aren’t anything like my history books from school. The events of your life today are the stories of the ancestors to those that will follow you.