Legends And Heroes

06/05/2011

 
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It was the fourth day of October 1813. James Luna placed his knapsack on the table in front of him and proceeded to fill it with a few personal items including his diary and his prized knife used for woodcarving. Turning to his wife Polly, James provided a soft kiss and then wrapped his arms around each child as he passed through their house. Polly always felt this day would come, marrying a man with a strong sense of military loyalty instilled by a father who was a veteran of the Revolution.

James made his way on horseback into the Tennessee town of Fayetteville and with the intensity and focus of any professionally trained warrior, he walked the steps of the courthouse to register with the Tennessee Militia. But this would not be an ordinary day for James Luna or the state of Tennessee, as both would forever be touched by history.

Respected by Tennessee commanders as a well-trained military man, James was enlisted into the militia as an Ensign, an officer given the authority over several troops. Assigned under the command of the fearless Colonel Andrew Jackson, James Luna quickly took control of his men and proceeded to fight the British friendly Creeks in the famous Battle of Talladega: It would soon become known as the Creek War, an historically significant piece of the War of 1812.

On the same day that James Luna walked the steps of the Fayetteville, Tennessee courthouse, another young man took a parallel path and provided his signature to the same military paperwork. Like James, a man well respected by the community, Davy Crockett penned his name to the list of volunteers under the famous Andrew Jackson. But Davy was given the military rank of Sergeant, serving as a subordinate to James Luna throughout his Creek War tour.

Both men fought heroically at Forts Strother and Forts Deposite, withstanding the brutal effects of a war riddled with disease and starvation. The rebellious Creeks were out-manned by Colonial Jackson's troops and the Tennessee Militia's victories provided further motivation for the mighty Andrew Jackson to march troops into the Battle of New Orleans.

At the end of their tour in 1814, James Luna and Davy Crockett were both honorably discharged from the Creek War but each took a different path in history. One returned to his family and plantation in Nashville; the other took a political turn that history has painted as a larger than life legend. But as the history books have described the 'wild frontiersman' Davy Crockett as fighting bears with one hand, the Ensign James Luna quietly settled back into his home, tilling his farm and carving his precious wood pieces with his prized knife.

Finding the heroes within our own family histories is only a short read when searching through military records. All of us hope to find ancestors of great honors, perhaps discoveries previously unknown of great great grandfathers heralded in history books of fortitude and military prowess. But like my ancestor James Luna, history only has room for a few legends and heroes; leaving his heraldry to be discovered by only a few.

As I reflected on last week's meaning of Memorial Day and listened to military 'flybys' over my rooftop, I was reminded that we all have legends and heroes within our family histories. And it is important to remember that although the American Revolution, War of 1812 and the Civil War were significantly great: American heroes have fought in numerous other wars throughout history. Wars that many of us forget to research such as the Creek War, the Mexican War, Spanish-American War, Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Look for your legends and heroes in the 'other wars' at Online Military Indexes, Access Genealogy and Footnote.

Keep searching for answers;

Cheryl