Every year on September 27th, we can celebrate our heritage. Ancestor Appreciation Day reminds us that regardless of where we were born, where we were raised, or where we may live currently, we all have ancestors.
Our histories are richly diverse. Nothing has reminded us of that fact more distinctly than the soaring popularity of programs like Ancestry.com and 23AndMe. Some people are concerned about having DNA results “out there,” which is understandable. For me, I wanted my curiosity satisfied.
I was raised knowing that I was mostly of Northern European heritage… England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, plus the Netherlands. And I knew I was Armenian from Mom’s side. Then came the DNA testing, and I got my parents and Mom’s twin sister tested, too. With each individual’s test, the results for everyone become more and more precise and geographically targeted, too. I got two big surprises that family had not known previously. I have some Italian heritage… ah, yes, the Roman Empire. Plus, we had a little Viking on both sides of the family… though only 5% of my DNA shows Denmark, Sweden, or Norway.
Through conversations with elders since childhood, I recall learning information about my ancestors… who they were, how they lived, when and why they came to America. For me, such stories and information are informing and uplifting. They add to my appreciation of my ancestors. On a tough day, it becomes easy to gain a little perspective when remembering how truly challenging our ancestors may have found life to be.
Ancestor appreciation has much to do with why I started writing the Destiny trilogy of historical fiction books. Telling the stories of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents preserves the information and heritage for future generations. And as readers of advance copies of “Destiny of Determination: Faith and Family” have been sharing with me, telling our ancestors’ stories makes much of our untold history come alive in very personal and exciting ways, even for folks who never knew these people.
Whoever your ancestors may be and whatever trails they may have traveled, they did the very best they could. Today we remember, salute, and honor them.
(Photo courtesy of PGB Simon)