30 May 2016

On This Memorial Day We Remember …

On this Memorial Day we remember those who served and died in that service to out great Nation. Today, as President Barak Obama and many before him announced in his Memorial Day Proclamation, “we pay solemn tribute to those brave Americans who laid down their lives to defend our freedom.

In our families – mine and my husband’s – we have many who have served. Between us, we cover all five branches too. Our son-in-law is currently serving. However today is Memorial Day. Today we honor those who made that ultimate sacrifice. Today I honor my great Uncle Paulie (Paul Kurenda) and my husband’s 6th great uncle, Jacob Eckman.

Paulie with my grandmother, Anna
Paulie, as his sister (my grandmother) always called him, was the baby of the family. Born 16 July 1922, Paul grew up on a farm in Sadsburyville, Chester County. He was the youngest child of John Kurenda and Frances Skrabalak. Like many Coatesville area boys of that era, he went to work in the steel mill after school as a welder. 

On 1 January 1943, he enlisted – like so many of our nation’s young men – in the US Army. I know nothing of his service time. The only thing my grandparents ever said was that he served in Europe and his letters home were mostly about the weather. It evidently was always raining there. He got sick there and was sent stateside. As his condition worsened, he was sent to Valley Forge Hospital in Phoenixville, Chester County, to be nearer to family. He died there on 11 August 1944 at 5:20 p.m. His official cause of death was “tuberculosis, pulmonary, acute, miliary, bilateral.” He is buried at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township, Chester County between his parents. 

Growing up in Chester County, I have had more field trips to Valley Forge Battlefield than I can recall. Some facts stand out more than others – like that George Washington’s troops wintered there but there was no actual battle there. Another fact is that Jacob Eckman died there.

Jacob Eckman was born in Lancaster County in 1737 to Johannes Eckman and Eva Dorthea Seitz. On 29 April 1760 he married Anna Maria Taylor at the First Reformed Church of Christ in Lancaster. They had a son, Jacob, born 1763. Their son married Christina Musser in 1784 in Lancaster County.

Jacob served in the German Regiment of the Continental Army during the American Revolution under Colonel Baron De Arendt. His regiment was part of Muhlenberg’s Brigade. The Muster Rolls shows him present in December 1777. He was marked “sick present” in March 1778. He was on Furlough in April 1778 at the time of roll. In May his name was on the roster with no comment. Jacob died at Valley Forge on 20 May 1778.

Today – Memorial Day – is about them and the many other soldiers who have died in service for our country. May Their Memory Be Eternal.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

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