Military Monday – World War II Headstones

Frank Winkler's Headstone Application from

Frank Winkler’s Headstone Application from

I’ve been reading an experts site again where experts are answering questions about military records. I should avoid that site because it frustrates me because of the misinformation these experts are spreading. Case in point: Military issued headstones after World War II.

One man commented he wanted to get the engraving on his relative’s stone fixed because it was wrong. The expert responded the government gave the Discharge Paper to the funeral home and the funeral home provided the information to the stone cutter. The stone was wrong because the stone cutter did it wrong.

Sorry, but the family had to complete a headstone application. Military stones were not just issued to everyone because the government wanted to. You had to ask for it.

The stone cutters went by the information provided on the headstone application which was provided by a family member. Family members are human and make mistakes. The government didn’t check to see if the information provided was correct. They carved what they were given. My cousin Frank WiFrank Winkler Gravenkler’s stone is incorrect because his father wrote down the wrong Division on his application.

The Headstone Applications are available on and provide unit information and a service number. This is a good source to check if you do not already have a service number! Of course you must check the unit information against other sources to ensure it is correct because we all make mistakes. But this my friends is the real scoop on errors on headstones.

Frank was actually in the 29th Infantry Division, 115th Infantry Regiment.

*Note: It is possible the expert was thinking of the requirements for a military funeral in which case you would need to prove military service and giving the funeral home a copy of the discharge paper is necessary. However, he did not consider all those men and women who died in service and were repatriated after the war. They did not have a discharge paper.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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Categories: Military Research | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is It A Fact Or Did You Make It Up?

If you read my blog post tomorrow you know I am a bit frustrated. After writing that for tomorrow, I decided to write and post this today. I have been reading the questions and answers by a military research expert who is not providing completely accurate information and seems obsessed with facts. The impression I get from his questions back to the original poster and his responses are that unless you have an official piece of paper that states the FACT, it isn’t worth much. And we all know humans never make mistakes and records are always correct. But the impression I get from his responses is also that the oral history passed down through the family about your WWII ancestor isn’t fact and doesn’t matter much because it isn’t on an official piece of paper.

I have a problem with this. If you work on your family history or the military history of an ancestor, you know a lot of what you start with comes from oral history/family stories or bits of information on unofficial pieces of paper. We are taught to document where we get the information so we can refer back to it. I do not see a problem with using these as facts. Within every family story there is truth but we must use records to sort it out.  Will the family story change when you locate records? Perhaps. Is that ok? Yes. We all start somewhere before we go looking for those official documents which do contain errors!

I also read an article online this expert wrote where he basically told people not to post anything online unless it is correct. A lot of talk happens in the genealogy community about unsourced family trees and incorrect information being passed around. I’m sure we have all felt the information we have is correct and we share it or post it or write about it. Then we find another record and WHAM! The story changes and the information we have on that ancestor is now incorrect or changes in some way. Or we post something with a note or proof statement explaining why we think this fact or person is what it is.

I don’t see a problem with this or sharing what we have even if we are unsure about it. Or we post the research we have done (and we are never finished researching) to see what else we can find or if a relative will connect with us. The more we share, the more we can find and learn about research.

I would prefer we share and use every bit of information possible, including family stories, to conduct our research. We can all learn something from the rest of the world if we accept that we are human, make mistakes, and do the best we can with our research. There is even a lot to learn from the experts that frustrate us if we don’t let our egos get in the way. I can tell you this individual and a few others are helping me shape sections of my World War II Research Books so I cover and explain in detail certain things.

I’m curious what you think about these issues.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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Categories: Military Research, Research | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Tuesday’s Tip – Evaluate Your Business Goals

It’s that time of year when we all sit down to evaluate our business goals for the year. I have been doing this since I started my business 4.5 years ago. I tend to keep the main goals on a whiteboard by my desk and only refer to the entire list of goals once or twice a year. At the end of the year I pull out the goals and cross out the ones that were completely unattainable because the stars did not align or people backed out of obligations or whatever. I highlight all the things I did accomplish. Then I create a new list at the end of the document of all the things I did that weren’t on my list. I also look back on the previous year’s list to see how much I and my business focus have changed. Sometimes it is very eye opening.

I see this year I completed about half of what was on my list. Due to circumstances beyond my control or my needs changing, certain goals were unreachable. And, I added a list of over 20 things I did accomplish that really showed me what I already knew about myself and my business.

Do I ever complete every goal? Absolutely not. Am I upset by this? No way! Why????

No one is Superman or Wonder Woman. We all have lives outside of our businesses.

If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that we can make all the plans in the world but the universe adds and removes people and things from our lives that change things. We do not have control over everything, therefore we probably won’t accomplish everything we expect to.

I have learned to go with the flow and trust that wherever I’m moving with my business, the focus, or clients, is where I’m meant to be. I listen to the whispers, my dreams, and pay attention to my intuition. It has served me well.

Our focus and interests change. This helps us find our niche. We may not understand why certain people or things are falling in our lap. We often have to trust there is a reason. For example, when I stared my business, I was a researcher only. I was still married and could afford to go where the business took me without pushing too hard. Less than two years later I was moving out and getting a divorce. That made me a single mom of three boys and added a lot of stress to make my business work. I had written kids and adult genealogy books that led me to creating lectures for those topics. I’ve done well with both. I wrote a book about my cousin the Flying Tiger.  I wrote and had published three short biographies about my WWI and WWII ancestors in the NGS Quarterly and my local Czech Genealogy Society. The base of my business was there, although I did not realize at the time I moved out that WWII would become a major player in my business. I also had a major Chicago Italian genealogy client who is still with me today along with several of his relatives. That helped launch me into Chicago Italian Genealogy.

Throughout the last 2.5 years since I moved out and started a new life I’ve worked very hard to achieve my goals and lay a solid foundation for my business while also taking care of my boys. I’ve seen income streams come and go and new ones replace them. Looking at my goals for the last few years I see how much I’ve grown. How much things have changed with my business, and new directions in which it is going.

I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks what I’m doing is important. I don’t need anyone’s approval to move the projects I’m passionate about forward. I know what I’m doing makes a difference in the lives of many people. And I’m secure in the fact I do my job very well. I learn something new every day. And I LOVE my job. Not many people can say they are living the dream, but you can if you work for what you really want.

So if you run a business, I encourage you to take some time to look at your goals and see where you have been and where you are headed. Then create a plan for 2015. You might be surprised at where it takes you.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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