Have you ever wondered how to find your veteran ancestors? I’m all for sleeping in on days off from school, so it’s nice to have some simple ways to celebrate veteran’s day in a meaningful way that doesn’t require any prep (or putting on pants).
How to Find Your Veteran Ancestors
FamilySearch has made it easy to find your veteran ancestors with the click of a button. You can search for your World War I ancestors or your World War II ancestors who served in the military. You can even search for relatives who may not have served but registered for the draft. Each of these campaigns also includes a timeline of the war and some other facts that kids might find interesting.
Connect with Your Veteran Ancestors Through Photos
When I was a kid I thought I hated history. Turns out I actually really enjoy history, but I hate memorizing names and dates. Don’t make this mistake with your family history! Pictures bring your ancestors to life and make them relatable to kids (and adults)! Here’s an easy way to see all the pictures in your family tree without having to click through a bunch of profiles. You can have fun just looking through all the photos or do some fun art projects.
You can tell a lot of stories when kids have their hands busy! If you know some stories about your veteran ancestors, you can tell them to your kids while they trace photos of their relatives in uniform or do water color photos.
Dress Up Like Your Veteran Ancestors
If you have any uniforms that have been saved or passed down, don’t be afraid to take them out! My kids really enjoyed this fun photo op with my mom’s old Army uniform. Bonus: these photos make great gifts.
If you don’t have any uniforms to try on, google what the uniforms looked like for the war your ancestor served in. Kids can cut them out and paste them on a photo of themselves, draw them, or just enjoy looking at them online.
Interview Your Living Veteran Relatives
Do your kids have grandparents or great grandparents who were in the military? Interviewing relatives is such a great way to preserve your family’s stories! I especially enjoy having kids as part of the interview process, whether they are asking the questions or just listening and responding to the stories. They say such cute things and I love having the family interactions recorded. You don’t need any fancy equipment – you can get some great videos or audio recordings on your phone.
Audio recordings are great because they can be done from anywhere! It’s easy to do audio recordings over the phone or in person audio recordings. They are also a little less intimidating than video. If you are interviewing in person and your veteran is somewhat nervous, set it aside so they aren’t constantly looking at it and being reminded it’s there. Resist the urge to start and stop the recording; you can always cut things out later in editing if you need to.
If you need some interview questions, the library of congress has a great list. If you want to go all out, you can even submit your interview to their Veteran’s History Project!