Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day is a day for Remembrance

Memorial Day is a day for remembering soldiers
who died in the service of their country
At 3:00 PM, one should pause and remember those soldiers who died in the service of their country. Take a moment to recall that fallen soldier.

John Earl Copeland
Austin Hawkins Copeland's son John Earl Copeland was shot down in 1944, Hansa Bay, New Guinea. He was only 21 years old. He left a wife and a son John Earl Jr whom he had never seen.

Lt. Poulson's crew - John Earl Copeland is presumed to be in the lower row, middle - based on his resemblance to this childhood photo of John Earl on a horse.

John Earl Copeland was posthumously awarded an Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

James Delos Copeland
Although my father did not die in battle, he did fight in Korea. While there, he contracted hemoraghic fever and nearly died at age 22. He recovered, but his circulatory system was damaged so much that he began having heart attacks at age 35. He died at age 43. He never spoke about his military service. He was a kind and gentle man, much loved and much missed by his family every single day.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday, George C. Copeland!

Ninety years old! What a significant birthday and what a momentous life!

George Copeland has seen the world change from a agricultural-based life to one of high technology. In between, he saw the earliest cars and planes transform into speed machines that were only dreamt of in fiction. George followed his dreams when the first air field was built near Coffeyville Kansas. He wanted to fly. In the Army, George was a Tail Gunner. Less than 2 weeks after his first flight mission, his plane was shot down in June of 1944. George was only 24 years old.

For the next year George was a Prisoner of War in a German Stalag camp. He and his fellow POW's demonstrated strength of character, hope, and innovation as they maintained their health, their hope, and their will. George thinks his background as a farm boy helped him through this. I think that George and all of his men were from a time of life where things were tough to begin with. They did not cry and give up.

When the Germans marched them out of the camp, they didn't know what would happen to them. George and his mates marched for months until Liberation Day. Then they had to make their own way back to freedom in spite of, rather than with the help of, the allied troups that they encountered along the way. Once home, they got right back into life, going to school, marrying, building families and careers, with modesty and personal strength.When I look at George, I think he personifies a true survivor personality.

Happy Birthday, George! May you have many more.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy 88th Birthday Virginia Copeland Noble!

I am still amazed by all the wonderful relations that I came in contact with this past year, and that I fortunate enough to meet in October 2009. Virginia Copeland Noble would have been another of my Dad's cousins.

Virginia is a petite, elegant and warm person with a great deal of love for her brother and his family. She is also a person who loved children as she taught 8 and 9 year olds for 45 years. Teachers are the unsung heroes of this world. They can guide a child, they can instruct a child, they can excite a child about learning and the world around them. Successful teachers make an impression and like a stone in a pond, the ripples go on in unimagined ways. Virginia's students probably carry her lessons and guide their own children on the principles that they learned from her.

When I was in Coffeyville, Kansas, we visited the Dalton Museum together. A volunteer came up and said, "Aren't you Mrs. Noble? You were my teacher!" How wonderful that the grown up woman could remember a teacher that probably influenced her so much that she would remember her so many years later.

Happy Birthday Virginia! May you have many more!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Howdy Cuzzin' Linda Copeland Shaw!

Yesterday I met Linda Copeland Shaw and her husband Butch Shaw. They both grew up in Santa Clara Valley where I grew up, and we never knew. Linda said her father once looked in the phone book and saw the Copeland names, but he said "I can't be related to any of them." He was! Linda's grandfather was my Dad's cousin!

When I 'tracked down' her side of the family and attempted to contact them, they thought it might be a case of identity theft. But when I sent a photo of Linda's father with his parents, he exclaimed "How does she have that picture? I don't even have that photo!"

This was a case where Linda and her teen daughter posted an internet message in 1998, looking for information about her grandfather. They never found any. Twelve years later, I searched for her grandfather, and found the posting. I tried to send an email to their address, but it was no longer valid. Then I found another internet posting by the same email address. That gave me the name of her daughter.

I searched for her name, and found her on a social networking site. I sent a message. No answer. They thought it was someone phishing for personal information. I sent another message, this time to her husband, and with more details and the photo. Then the information was passed on to the family.

After a few tentative emails, my 'authenticity' and the fact that I wasn't looking for identity information, money, or anything like that - and I shared a lot of information that they didn't know about the family, which was as amazing to them, as it was to me when I first discovered it.

It definitely pays to be cautious when someone contacts you and asks for family info and photographs. In this case, we benefited by establishing that we were family indeed.

Another irony was that during 1948 to 1952, three of the men in this generation were all in Japan together! My Dad, his cousin Melvin Koons, and their second cousin Jack Gilbert Copeland - and they never knew!

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