Don't let your old soldiers just fade away. Enlist the help of these five steps to find the stories behind your ancestors' military history.
When General Douglas MacArthur gave his famous farewell address to Congress in 1951, he quoted a refrain from an old Army barracks ballad: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
If the general had found the time in his 52-year military career to take up family history as a hobby, he might have put it differently.
From the earliest days of the United States, millions of young men and women have stepped forward to answer their country's call to arms, regardless of whether in a declared war, a police action, an uprising or a skirmish. It's rare to find a family that can't lay claim to at least one veteran, but unfortunately for the family historian, only a small percentage of those millions ever reached the icon status of men like MacArthur, George Washington, Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee.