Did you ever notice how “family” issues show up at weddings and funerals? Today, for me, was one of those days.
Yesterday afternoon, Patti and I drove to south Jersey to pick Carrie and Patrick (my oldest daughter and her husband), had dinner, then drove to Washington, DC. Rosslyn, Virginia actually, because we wanted to be close to Arlington, as we needed to be at “the gate” at 8:30am and in the Administration building at 9:00. And we were early.
Backing up a bit, my uncle Americus Lamberti (Uncle Max) died on Christmas day 2012. He was a 2nd LT in the Army in World War II. Early on, we were told that he would be cremated and buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. I made is very clear to my Aunt and my brother that I WOULD BE THERE and to please let me know when.
Here is where “family” shows up. As long as I can remember, my brother was the favorite with my mother’s sided of the family, and I guess I was favored on my father’s side. After all, he had my mother’s birth surname as his middle name, and I am the III (3rd). As a family researcher, I research both sides, had found lots of stories on both sides, the “family” stuff is not an issue for me. (I don’t think)
When I was first married, I moved to Washington, DC, specifically to be near my Aunt, and your second, but new husband “Uncle Max”. Visiting them, and listening to my aunt and uncle, I got a job in DC, and would stay with the company for 30 years. My uncle and I rode the bus to and from work together with a couple of his buddies, we fished, and did other things together. My first wife was a nurse as was my aunt.
Things changed, we bought a house, had kids, they moved to North Carolina, so that my uncle could play golf, and be a ranger at Whispering Pines. They did a lot of dancing. We didn’t visit them in NC, my bad, but I had kids, we camped, had a tendency to go to where it was cooler in the summer, so only saw them on the holidays that they visited my folks.
My brother kept it touch with them, visited them, etc. Enough family “stuff”.
Back to reality. Knowing that my uncle was going to be buried in Arlington, letting my brother and aunt know about my wished, we still contacted Arlington and the funeral home about our wished to “be there”. Six months later, I get a text message from Patti that the burial was the 27th. The Funeral Home called her to let her know. Just to complete the circle, she contacted her “person” at ANC. The long and short of that is, is she had not contacted the ANC, we would NOT have been able to be part of the ceremony, as their instructions, from my Aunt, was the no one would be there. Our very helpful contact, got in touch with my Aunt, who said it was OK for us to attend. Then, I get an email from my brother, letting me know that my uncle was going to be buried today, but at 10:00am and not 9:00am.
The ceremony was awesome, the “family” was the four of us. We were thanked for being there. That made me think about how many other veterans are buried at the Arlington National Cemetery without any family there at all.
Uncle Max, Americus Lamberti, is now with his (an my Aunt’s) twin baby boys. Born and died on the same day. It was years before I even knew they existed, as I was in Vietnam when they were born. I have visited their burial plot before, was able to take my parents there, before they died.
My daughter asked me a question, who were his parents? Oops, I couldn’t answer her, as I have not done a lot of research on him. My bad. He was still alive and I didn’t ask him about his life. I know there are storied to tell, like “I wonder why HIS daughter wasn’t at the burial today?” Perhaps she was at the memorial service where he lived, but don’t think so.
I now have a mission, to do some research on Uncle Max, and have it ready for Veterans Day 2013, so that I can tell HIS story.
He is home, with his son’s, in the Arlington National Cemetery and he was buried with FULL Military Honor’s, as he deserved.
Note: There is a PS to this story.
Within an hour of posting this, I had an email from a cousin, with the 1920 Census for my Uncle AND a Find-A-Grave memorial for Uncle Max’s parents. THAT is Family. Thank you Dr. Don.