Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chris O'Donnell & Who Do You Think You Are?

Did you watch the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, featuring actor Chris O'Donnell? This episode was quite good. Chris learned that two of his grandfathers--one great-great grandfather and one great-great-great-great grandfather--served in the military. (I hope I counted the generations correctly!) One served in the Spanish-America War, in 1846, the other served in the War of 1812.

One of the highlights of the episode is that they took the time to explain--albeit briefly--the significance of these two wars in American history. The Spanish-American War occurred because the United States had a domestic policy of Manifest Destiny, a policy of stretching the America's western border all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In order to achieve that, the United States needed to grab the land that is now known as the states of Texas (western part), New Mexico, Arizona, southern parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and the whole southern half of California.  This territory is also commonly known as the desert southwest. And, yes, the United States won.

The War of 1812 occurred because of ongoing tensions between England and the United States, some of which reached back to the American Revolution. Some of the tensions were connected to the fact that the  United States had trade relations with France, who had ongoing tensions (and wars) with England.  In fact, from 1792 onward, France and England were already at war with one another.  Ultimately, the War of 1812 led to the resolution of these tensions between England and the United States.

Why do I think it was a highlight when they described these two wars? As genealogists and family historians, we know how important it is to research the world in which our ancestors lived. Such events had an impact on how our ancestors lived their lives. They were, in fact, eyewitnesses to our social, political, economic, and military history. They are the storytellers!

I was also glad to see a mention of Fold3, a relatively new website (newer than that focuses primarily on military service records. It's amazing how much they have in their website.  I highly recommend that you visit Fold3 and check out the military history of your ancestors!  The website is at There are stories to be told!!

Until next time.... :)

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