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Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day:

With a rich history of service to country that touched nearly every ancestral generation back to the early colonial militias,  our ancestors have answered the call during war time and peace time.
We have only had one direct ancestor and one distant cousin who have died during combat, but Memorial Day has grown to mean more than recognizing the service of the fallen, it has also become a time to recognize those Veterans who served, survived and have passed on. 
GlennDL

Memorial Day  occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

On Memorial Day the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.* The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.  In keeping with what some call a secular "civil religion" - one with no association with any religious denomination or viewpoint - that has incorporated Memorial Day as a sacred event. With the Civil War, a new theme of death, sacrifice and rebirth enters the civil religion. Memorial Day gave ritual expression to these themes, integrating the local community into a sense of nationalism. The American civil religion, in contrast to that of France, was never anticlerical or militantly secular; in contrast to Britain, it was not tied to a specific denomination, such as the Church of England. The Americans borrowed from different religious traditions so that the average American saw no conflict between the two, and deep levels of personal motivation were aligned with attaining national goals.*graphic

Col. John Luttrell

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War John Luttrell returned from Ft. Boonesburough to his home in North Carolina and was commissioned Colonel in his colonies militia.  He served throughout the war until he was killed at the Battle of Lindley’s Mill in an action against the rear guard of a 'Tory' unit who had kidnapped the governor of North Carolina.  Col. Luttrell had no children when he died.

Battle of Lindley's Mill

John Luttrell is the 2nd cousin twice removed from our ancestor Timmons Literal.   for more on the Battle of Lindleys Mill

Literal, Eli Franklin

In September of 1862 Eli enlisted in Company A of the 9th Tennessee Calvary on the side of the Confederacy. On or after March 16, 1864, Eli died at Tunnel Hill, Georgia; leaving a widow and family ill-equipped to handle such a loss. He was buried in an unmarked mass grave at Tunnel Hill, Dalton or Marietta, Georgia.Pauline_Wilson
2001 Tombstone Memorial Ceremony for Pvt. Eli Franklin Literal

 

Robert Luttrell
Robert was the great grandfather of Timmons Seburn Literal.  According to Virginia records he served 2 months and 10 as a private in Capt. Ball's company of the Fauquier County Militia (Virginia) in the fall of 1781.

Rodham Literal
According to Lincoln County, Kentucky records the grandfather of Timmons Seburn Literal served as Captain in the 'Cornstalk Militia'  during the summer of 1800.

Zachariah Belew
Zachariah was the great great grandfather of Kizzie Zore Comer who married John Daniel Littrell, son of Timmons Literal.  He served in the South Carolina Militia as part of Col. Brandon's Regiment during the Revolutionary War.

Second Creek Cemetery
Second Creek Cemetery

Harbert H. Ezell
Harbert Ezell, unlike most of his family and neighbors from Lawrence County, Tennessee served in the Union Army during the civil War.  He was the grandfather of Kizzie Zore Comer (who married John Daniel Littrell) and Donie Ezell (who married John's brother James Carroll Littrell).

Jesse Comer
Jesse Comer served in the Confederate States Army. He was the grandfather of Kizzie Zore Comer who married John Daniel Littrell.

Mounds Cemetery, New Madrid Co. MO.Raymond Savat
Raymond was the husband of Martha Rae Curtis, who is the daughter of Onene Littrell Curtis, daughter of John & Kizzie Littrell.

Woodman Od The World Cem.,  East Prairie, Missouri

Jesse Davis
Jesse was the husband of Letha Mae Littrell, daughter of John & Kizzie Littrell.

This spring I was in southeast Missouri doing some research for a family history on the family’s of my grandfather, John Daniel Littrell, and his brother James Carroll Littrell. The particular information I was looking for was the military service of their sons.  While visiting the libraries of Mississippi and New Madrid Counties I was amazed at the number of enlistees from the two counties during World War II and the Korean conflict.  During WW II virtually every issue of the area newspapers listed 50, 75, 100 local boys reporting for service.  The numbers were staggering when one considers that this was not a densely populated area. While contributing more than its fair share of young men to the war effort these numbers could not have been achieved without many families sending more than one son off to war.  In John Littrell’s family alone five sons and two son-in-laws served between 1941 and 1952.

603TSBordie_crppdThe last stop on this particular trip was a visit to the cemetery located in Anniston, Missouri to obtain a photograph of  Lindsie Prior “Bordie” Thurman’s headstone.  Bordie was an Army Air Corps Veteran of World War II and the husband of Bertha Ann Littrell, John Littrell’s third daughter.

While growing up I had spent several summer vacations with my grandparents John and Kizzie (Comer) Littrell in East Prairie, Missouri and lived for a short time in Marston, but was only vaguely familiar with those areas.  I had heard of Anniston and knew that my grandparents had lived there prior to settling in East Prairie but had never actually been there.  Upon arriving in Anniston it was obvious that the little town had seen more robust times, I probably had unrealistic expectations based on family stories from my youth.  Gone were the theater, school, and cafĂ© that were prominent in those recollections.  

whatisaveteranUpon finding the cemetery I began looking for Uncle Bordie’s headstone.  As I searched I became aware of two oddities concerning the little cemetery.   

The first oddity was that the population of the graveyard appeared to be close to or greater than the population of the town (288).  This by itself is not unique; I have visited hundreds of cemeteries in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri over the last ten years, and have seen many towns where the dead outnumbered the living.  What was different about Anniston though was that neither the town nor the cemetery appeared to be as old as the other towns that had this same situation.

The second oddity however was very unique.  As I wandered among the headstone it struck me that a large portion of the headstones had ‘Veteran Plaques’, eventually this realization was overwhelming so I started counting the headstones that were those of veterans.  By the time I found Bordie’s headstone it was apparent that anywhere from a fourth to a third of the occupants of Anniston Cemetery were veterans of WWII andheroes dont wear capes Korea.  I have never seen such a large percentage of veterans in any post civil war cemetery.  If you figure that half of the occupants of the cemetery are females then that means more than half of the male population in the quaint little cemetery served their country.  Even if the population of Anniston during this time was twice as large as it is now the contribution of this little town was a significant portion of the male population when you consider that the cemetery only represents residents and former servicemen who chose to be buried there.  I myself know of at least 5 former residents (brothers) and veterans of this period who were not buried here: Les, Red, Rubin, OJ and JD Littrell.   

View Boys of Anniston

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Resources:

  • United States Code, 2006, Supplement 1, January 4, 2007 to January 8, 2008.   
  • Robert N. Bellah, "Civil Religion in America", Daedalus 1967 96(1): 1–21.

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