If you want to find historical events from 1877 or a quick biography of George Washington or the history of the Ming Dynasty, you very well might end up on Wikipedia. It’s free and collects a lot of information from a lot of people, many who know what they are talking about. And because it’s based on community knowledge, you can add what you know.
But what if you wanted to find something on a Veteran who served in a U.S. conflict? Or better yet, what if you have a Veteran’s story to tell? Our friends at Fold3 created the Honor Wall, which is a pretty nifty way to collect and share information about all of America’s veterans from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War. And like Wikipedia, everyone pools their knowledge and it is all shared for free.
Turns out, I’m the first to sign up for James Calvin Donald, my great great grandfather, so it’s up to me to get this memorial page built!
Once you click Add Now, you’ll need to know a few basics: Name, Birth Date (to the best of your knowledge), and what conflict they served in. I add that in and now I have a page for James.
I have a picture of his gravestone, so I’ll add that. I also have lots of records, so I put that on my mental to-do list to go back and add them.
Next I update his personal information. Adding in birth and death dates and a wife help distinguish him from other possible James Donald’s that served.
And if you scroll down a little on the Personal Details, you’ll notice you can search and add external links. The search allows you to jump to Ancestry.com, Fold3 or Newspapers.com to look for new documents that help add to the story.
Also, at the bottom, you can add external links. Do you have your own blog or know other websites that help tell the story? Here is where you add them.
If you have a story to tell, and I’m guessing you do, the story tab allows you to add text. I put in a short biographical sketch, but you may have a different idea on how to use this space.
You can also keep track of all of the views your page has had (I think all 11 are from me! Ha.) and you can decide if you want to be the sole owner or if you want to collaborate with others. I think collaboration works best for me, so I’m going that route.
You can take a look at my page for James Calvin Donald, Johnny Cash, Ezra Carpenter, Jimmy Stewart, Courtney Brewer, Larry Oakley or Anne Dunwoody. Oh, and George Washington is there of course. If you find or create one, add it in the comments.
Go look through your tree. You know you have a lot of veterans. And on Veteran’s Day it is a perfect time to commemorate them. Even if you don’t know a lot, you can get started today with what you know. And it’s free.
If you don’t honor them who will?
Happy Veteran’s Day!
About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.