I have been chasing my ancestors for decades now, not through forest and field, but through books, charts, CDs; through census reproductions, military documents, church records and cemeteries.
I have found them in family Bibles, old photographs, handed-down journals, and social histories. Catching up with people who died one hundred - or eight hundred years ago, takes determination. I don't regret the time I have spent in the pursuit of long-gone and mostly-forgotten people, though. I have learned far more than I anticipated at the start of this journey.
I have learned that the fate of nations is decided by men of resolve and action, whether they be sailors on a ship of war, barons signing the sureties at Runnymede, or pioneers bringing their families two thousand miles to better farmland.
My ancestors - your ancestors, all of our ancestors, by actions large and small, created the world we have now. We, by our actions big or little, create the world our descendants will inherit. Battles I never heard of until I read the details of the American Revolution are what turned the tide of war and gave us victory. Things we do now may never gain renown, but may be what makes life tolerable or otherwise for generations to come.
These are not new discoveries, but discovering in such a personal way that individuals matter, has renewed my care for the "small things", the day-to-day decisions, which are the fabric of our lives. Each person is important, each thread is necessary to create strong communities, and a strong country.