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In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow

This weekend we will be observing Memorial Day in the US to honor the country's war dead. It is a perfect time to explore the available military records of our ancestors and family members, and I'm very excited about a new free source!

Memorial Day poppies USA flag folded Remember & Honor

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. - John McCrae (1872-1918)

I have found few things as moving as my visit to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial Site in Cambridge, England. The sight of all the crosses, row on row, made my heart ache. This cemetery is the final resting place of 3,811 Americans and also there is the Portland Stone Wall of the Missing records 5,127 names of people who have no grave because they were lost or buried at sea, or missing in action in WWII.

I just found this free site this week, maybe you already knew about it? The cemeteries of the war dead of all US conflicts are being added to the Veterans Legacy Memorial by the Veterans Administration of the US. This website contains memorials for almost 5 million vets as of this Memorial Day. Most of these are records of the people interred at Arlington National Cemetery, but also included are those resting in the VA National Cemeteries, VA-grant funded State, Territorial and Tribal Veteran Cemeteries, and two National Park Service national cemeteries.

Here you will find their service records, medals awarded, birth and death dates, cemetery and grave site maps, and any stories or photos that may be uploaded by friends and relatives. The database is easily searchable and is free to use. You can find it at


Traditionally the family history websites offer access to service records for Memorial Day, but as of this date, so far only MyHeritage has announced all their military records will be available for free from May 25-30.

The National Archives has access to pre 1917 records online, and instructions on how to get records past that date. FamilySearch also has some military records and is always free!

Don't forget to check for newspaper articles about who was serving in the "big wars" in WWI and WWII when there was space available for publishing personal news items. (by Ancestry) and both have 7 day free trials.

Fold3 is Ancestry's military records specialty site. It has a vast collection of info and can be found at and they have a free 7 day trial.

Ancestry memberships are on sale, 40% off on all levels through May 29. My Heritage DNA kits are still on sale at $49 marked down from $89.

If you have ancestors who served in the military, especially if they made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, take some time this weekend to honor them and see what else you can learn about them. You could make a lovely presentation for your family for Father's Day!

group of american flags

Next Monday across the US people are urged to pause for a moment of silence at 3pm local time. Your flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, and then raised to the top of the pole until sunset to honor the fallen.

If you need some help with military research or your family tree, send me an email at and I'd be glad to give you a free quote or sometimes I have been known to answer a quick question at no charge.

Wishing you a happy unofficial start of Summer that will be full of peace,

Leslie Ryan

No compensation is received for any links or referrals herein. No copyright infringement is intended.


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