I was born a poor white child in the bayous of Lake Charles, Louisiana approximately thirty-three years ago. My lineage dates back to the original colonists on both sides of my family. When I was younger, history didn't mean a lot to me and thusly didn't hold a lot of my attention. This of course did nothing to stop my older relatives from giving me an earful of folktales and readings from the family memoirs.
The Talkingtons and The Chances both left England for reasons I have yet to discover to begin a new live in the savage lands of America. My father's grandmother's on several occasions claimed Sir Francis Drake was her great-beyond-great uncle. The evidence to this was in that her maiden name was "Drake", so make of that what you will. Beyond that I know from family records that both families moved south after the Revolutionary War. The Chances were awarded parcels of land in Georgia while The Talkingtons ended up in North Carolina. The Civil War prompted another story from the Talkington annals. My father's mother told a story of her grandfather who fought in the Civil War. He fought for the South and his brother fought for the North. Blood proved thicker than anything else in the world when they would meet each night to share coffee and food with one another.
After the Civil War, the stories and memories seem to be lost until the Second World War. My father was named after an uncle he never met. His uncle was shot down by German anti-aircraft artillery while performing bombing runs over the African Coast. My mother's father lived up to his surname a couple of times during WWII. He was present at Mussolini's execution when they strung him upside down to let him bleed to death. This was after nearly being killed when a mortar shell exploded beside him leaving him unharmed but killing the guy next to him. His most extraordinary story to date is of a German incursion with his infantry regiment. His regiment was stalemated against a regiment of Germans. Both sides were cut off from supplies, and the waiting game began. Days went by until finally his group had run out of ammo. The Germans, tired and hungry, didn't notice or care as they raised their white flag in surrender. A charmed life indeed, and coincidentally his nickname back home was "Little Boy".
My father's father missed the war luckily due to him taking up the calling just as four generations of Talkingtons had done before him. Casting off his career as an up and coming minor league baseball player, he joined the ranks of a different army. He was an ordained minister, a soldier for God. He served his country and his congregation through ministry, keeping hope and faith alive in America. My father's mother did her part as well by working as a general worker building schools and sweating as a factory worker just as "Rosy the Riveter" asked of all women during that time.
As I grew up and began to put these stories into their proper context, history became more personal to me. History was still boring but I at least felt more a part of it. Now I find myself reconnecting to my country's founders through the writings of Thomas Jefferson and the unsung patriot, Thomas Paine. I am discovering that history, as cheesy as it might sound, is more a part of me and who I am than I had ever given it credit for. I look forward to exploring more of my past through family stories and examining how they fit into the bigger picture of American History.