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My great uncle Carl A. Roasa was inducted into the Army/Marine unit on July 5, 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri. He served overseas from May 20, 1918 until January 17, 1919 when he died in France of pneumonia. He was buried in the Granger Cemetery started by his parents Albert and Laura Roasa. They bought land and planted trees. Carl was the first burial. I read in Albert’s war records that his mother was notified of his death. I picture my great-grandmother receiving this devastating news of her beloved son, and my heart breaks.

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A Soldiers’ Memorial was established near the Scotland County Courthouse in Memphis, Missouri in 1923 led by the Betsy Ross Club. Other organizations joined forces including Home Guards, Order of the Eastern Star and Mothers of Soldiers. The names of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice were chiseled on the memorial pillars. The engraving reads “In memoriam to the boys from Scotland County 1914 ~ World War ~ 1918, they gave their all for liberty and democracy.” The honor roll of twenty-five soldiers includes Carl A. Roasa. Roasa_memorial

Although I am not in Missouri this Memorial Day weekend, I will visit the Granger Cemetery as well as the Saint Paul Cemetery later this summer. My grandma Mohr taught me why we celebrate Memorial Day. We picked peonies and roses from her beautiful gardens and decorated loved ones’ graves. I learned that red poppies symbolized remembrance of those fallen in war. She always prayed for nature to hold back the rain to preserve flowers for Memorial Day weekend. She especially wanted perfect flowers for her brother’s grave, Rupert who died from influenza in France in World I. Private Rupert Seyb served in Company F, 350th Infantry with American Expeditionary Forces. He died in France at twenty-six-years-old. His funeral card has this tribute—In Loving Remembrance.

In sunny France there came a chance RupertS46649592_128508056240
To test his soul in blood
He didn’t stop—but o’er the top
He went—and he made good.
And that is why we dare not cry
As his brave soul passes on;
His name’s enrolled on Fame’s bright scroll,
Our glorious valiant son.

My ancestors who bravely served our nation and made it safely home were:

  • Nathaniel Thurber, my great-great-great-great-grandfather—American Revolutionary War
  • James Thurber, my great-great-great-grandfather—War of 1812
  • Henry Mohr, my great-uncle—World War I
  • Raymond Seyb, my great-uncle—World War I
  • Floyd Roasa, my great-uncle—World War I
  • Hubert Roasa, my great-uncle—World War I
  • Leonard Seyb Mohr, my father—World War II
  • Glen Barr, my uncle—World War II

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Uncle Glen was proud of his military service and carried his discharge document from the day he left the service until his death in 2009. I have a letter he wrote to my mother when he was in Italy. “Here I am somewhere in Italy. The scenery is sure like the pictures you see of Italy. Everything is nice and green up on sides of mountains. They have orchards and lots of grapes. All the buildings here are pretty well blown up. You don’t see any windows in the buildings….I am feeling fine.”

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My father served over 4 1/2 years in Company M 20th Infantry 6th Division with half of his time in New Guinea. As a heavy machine gunner, he was unharmed in battle. However, he was hospitalized for a month due to a baseball head injury.

I pause to reflect on what my ancestors’ service and sacrifice mean to my life, and I am deeply grateful.

Blessings!

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