I talked on Facebook recently about being part of a political legacy due to being the Great-Great-Great Granddaughter of William Henry Harrison and then also his Grandfather Benjamin Harrison. I have have the blood of both of those Presidents of the US coursing trough my veins. However, that is far from the only legacy that I am part of.
My Grandfather (my Mom’s Dad) served the US as a medic in the Army during the Korean War. He was drafted into the US Army in December of 1952, 4 weeks after his marriage to my Grandmother. He was stationed in Germany during the Korean War. My Grandfather was not allowed to go to the front lines because his brother, my Great Uncle Bruce, was KIA on the front lines. I have a copy of the paper my Great-Grandma Iva signed to have his body released back to her when he was returned to the US. My Grandfather then went on to work for General Motors in Pontiac, Michigan for over 30 years as a Tool and Dye worker. He retired shortly before my youngest sister’s birth in 1987. He was married to my Grandma Joyce for 53 years before her death in 2005. They lived in the house my Grandma had grown up in, that my Great-Grandparents had bought in tiny town called Leonard in Michigan. It is where I grew up and the place I think of as Home. My Grandmother raised 5 children in that house. She was 16 years old when she married my Grandfather and told me stories of riding on his motorcycle with him to go to gigs when my Grandpa played the guitar. She cooked amazing Christmas Eve dinners and was one of the funniest, strongest people I’ve ever known.
My Dad was born in July of 1953. He was born to a single Mom, his biological Father having left shortly after his birth. That’s not what you need to know about my Dad though. My Dad grew up in an abusive home with a lot of pressure to be different than who he was. By 17, he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He left home and joined the Army during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1972 at 19 years old after joining the academy to become a Drill Sgt. He left the army several years later and went home to Michigan where I was born. I am his 3rd daughter, the oldest born to his 3rd wife, my Mom Laurie. My Dad was a machinest, working his hands to the bone on a daily basis to try to provide for his family. He passed away from Thyroid cancer in June of 2013, a month shy of his 60th birthday.
My Mom was born in July of 1963, the youngest daughter and child of my grandparents until the birth of my Uncle Phil in 1974. She was a wild child, from all accounts, and excelled in every area she touched (she still does, btw). She pulled through, forgoing her dreams to go to college and instead fulfilled her dream of becoming a Mom. She raised my sisters and me on her own, making sure we had everything we needed and that we always knew we were loved. After years of putting her own dreams on the back burner to help her children accomplish their’s, she went to college herself and obtained a degree in Social Work in 2016.
My twin sister and I were the first members of my Dad’s family to graduate from college in 2009, and I know I certainly felt the weight of the dreams of both of our parents when we walked that stage. My youngest sister became the first to get married and have children – a dream she’d had and worked for for most of her life.
Point is…we come from a legacy of stregth, duty, and sacrifice. We know the bitter taste of defeat and the strength it takes to rise up from it. We watched our parents have to swallow their pride and do what had to be done to make ends meet and it instilled in us the drive to make our lives better. Its a legacy I hope I continue to live up to.