By Angie Georgeff

It seems to me that November has just gotten started, but the first of its two federal holidays is already peeking around the corner. The theme for November is gratitude, so Veterans Day fits in well with Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the sacrifices made by veterans from the American Revolutionary War to the present day. I also am proud of the part so many of my ancestors played in the struggle for freedom.

It’s one thing to hear the stories about Washington’s men starving and freezing at Valley Forge.  It was quite another to learn that my fifth great-grandfather John Peery sustained 54 sabre cuts to his head, shoulders, arms and hands in a skirmish with “Bloody” Banastre Tarleton’s dragoons during the campaign that culminated in the pivotal Battle of Guilford Courthouse. I imagined his slow, painful return to his wife Sarah in Virginia. John was disfigured and disabled and grieving, for he came home without his eldest son Thomas, who was killed during the skirmish by Tarleton’s brutal horsemen.

John Peery was one of many who served and suffered. If your roots run deep in the hills of Appalachia, you probably have a similar story in your family’s history. This month, take time to ask your relatives, friends and neighbors about their military service and remember to thank them. If you need help finding information about the service records of your ancestors, then come to the library. I’ll be happy to help you get started. We need to remember so we can appreciate the sacrifices they made.

And “Remember the Ladies”

In a letter written to her husband John on March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams urged lawmakers to “Remember the Ladies.” It’s still good advice. Most of my foremothers stayed home while their husbands went to war. It fell to them to take care of the children, the farm and any other business in which the family was engaged. They had little choice and received little recognition.

My grandmother, however, found a way to serve her country during World War II while still taking care of her home and three children. Even though she did not go to war, she made a contribution. Alpha Gray Bradshaw was a WOW, a Woman Ordnance Worker, who worked as a chemist at Holston Ordnance making ammunition. It was dangerous work, but vital to the war effort. So don’t forget to ask about what your female relatives did during the war. You might be surprised.

Holiday Closure

The library will be closed on Monday, Nov. 11, in observance of Veterans Day. No items will be due on that date, but books and audiobooks only may be returned to either of our book drops, which are located at the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Please do not deposit any DVDs in the book returns, since heavy books may damage them. To all veterans, thank you for your service!