What is Your Family History?

My husband and I recently flew home from a vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. We engaged in a meaningful conversation with a couple standing in line behind us. I do not know their names, but the husband had an Uncle named Murry.

Why do I remember this?  Uncle Murry was killed on Dec. 7, 1941 on the USS Oklahoma.

This couple was on their way to Pearl Harbor for the first time. As I have visited the memorial several times, I shared with them to emotionally prepare for a difficult day. It is tough to navigate those hallowed grounds without shedding tears.

They continued to share with us. About 20 years ago they met someone who had dinner with Uncle Murry on Dec. 6th. He was not supposed to be on shift the following fateful morning. But one of his shipmates had gotten drunk that night and Uncle Murry was called in to take his shift. This couple expressed their sorrow of not knowing this information sooner. Murry’s parents never got to hear the story of what happened to their son.

The couple told us that their cousins allowed their DNA to be tested to see if Uncle Murry’s remains could be identified. They were successful. All of Uncle Murry’s cousins are now deciding if they want his remains interred with his shipmates or flown home for burial.

On the flight home I couldn’t stop thinking about Uncle Murry and his family. A family that is trying to piece together their family’s history, so it is not lost for future generations. A family who knows that information itself can be a lasting gift.

In this month of New Year’s resolutions, I encourage you to set a goal of documenting your own family history. Whether you are the person that can write memories down for your children, or whether you are the grandchild that can interview your grandparents, writing down (or videotaping!) family stories, history, and traditions will be a love-filled legacy for future generations of your family. My grandmother did that for me. My 2018 resolution is to do the same for my son.

When I got home I started to research. On August 16, 2016, a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency press release stated Navy Seaman 1st Class Murry R. Cargile remains were identified. Uncle Murry was from Robersonville, North Carolina, and was only 21 when he died.

Rest in Peace Uncle Murry. And thank you for your service.

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