Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served, are serving, and will serve in our nation's armed forces. In keeping with this tradition, the following is a brief history of my own family's service, which began in the Revolutionary War, and has continued to the present day.
The tradition of military service is very strong in the Schumaker family. Members of my extended family have served honorably in the military at least as far back as the mid-18th Century. My 4th Great Grandfather, George Shoemaker, served in the
Militia in 1758 and, during the Revolutionary
War, in Captain Baxter's Company of Rockingham Militia. Non-patrilineal ancestors, such as my 5th
Great Grandfather, Nathan
Fish, served under George Washington, as did my 4th Great
Samuel Logan. During the 18th, 19th
and early 20th Centuries, most of my direct ancestors were farmers
and clergy, and, with the exception of the Turners, appear not to have entered
military service. This changed, however,
with the beginning of the Second World War. Fairfax
Over the years, the family has also endured its share of sacrifice. During the Civil War, my Great Grandfather, Frederick Samuel Turner, fought for the
Union. He was captured by the Confederates, but
survived the war and lived to the ripe old age of 77. His brother, my Great Granduncle, George
Butler Turner, was not so lucky.
He could have bought his way out of the Union draft by paying $300, but
he volunteered instead. He was killed at
of Missionary Ridge in 1863, but not before leaving a detailed chronicle of
his military experiences in hundreds of letters sent back to his parents.
Perhaps most tragically, my cousin, Ned Turner Dybvig, was killed in action in
Ned was a talented artist and an athlete, and a graduate of Cornell. He was in top physical shape and highly
intelligent. He was an outdoorsman and skydived for fun. He was drafted, and joined the 101st Airborne in 1967. He was killed in a firefight near the ancient capital of Hue in April of 1968. Vietnam
Finally, of course, I was also drafted into the Army in October of 1969. I served for four years, somehow making it through Basic Training at Fort Ord without being "recycled," taking Russian for 15 months at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and then serving for three years at the White House Communications Agency. My experience in the Army set me on the path to a Foreign Service career.