how many know their own family histories?
I don't have documents, but I know the history by heart. I hear stories all the time.
Starts like this:
Looooooong time ago....we were farmers. Then family members started to become soldiers and actually got pretty far up there in the chain of command. One of my great grandfathers became a very highly decorated Hussar for a Polish noble (yes, he wore the wings) and recieved a ceremonial sabre. After him it kinda simmered down a bit and we just passed down the sabre from father to son, father to son. During WW1 I'm not sure who, but a few family members fought alongside the Russians, then against them in the 20s. In WW2, great uncles of mine fought against the Axis in Africa, France, and in rebellions in Poland. Some family members were sent to gulags, others to concentration camps, and some were POWs. My grandfather told me how his father used to hide jews in their basement whenever he could feed them. You see my most of my family lived in small villages at that time and close to the mountains in southern Poland in Lapsze Nizne, so they really weren't bothered too often by the Nazis, but when they did show up the whole town tried to help the jews. After WW2, my fathers side of the family moved away from their home town (can't remember the name) to Nowy Targ, and my grandfather was in possession of the sabre. There, my father was born, then his brothers. Not too long ago my father's father passed away, and my father now owns the sabre, being the oldest. He refuses to take it away from Poland though, so he has his brother and mother hold on to it for now. My mother's side of the family is actually lower-upper class in Poland, or they would be if we lived there. My mother's father, who is an ox of a man (survived 3 heart attacks, 5 strokes, diabetes, leg amputation, and then some) owns about 70 acres of land, and a very nice looking house on his farmland. (nicest farmhouse I have ever seen, by far) It's bigger than the house we live in now, but he wanted his children to have a chance at a better life. My mother, her sisters and one brother were all small children who showed up in New York Harbor on a boat when my mom was about 6 or 7. They lived in the US for a little bit, but moved back to Poland. My mother grew up there, met my father, who was in the military and was widely known as "that guy who looks like Patrick Swayze" (I've seen old pics of him, it's not a lie) and they married. While my mother was pregnant, her sisters were already in the US, and she wanted to visit them, so she hopped over for a quick vacation. While she was here, I was born, and that's why I am a US citizen. Then, we lived in Poland for two years, moved to the US, and my brother was born. We've lived in Garfield, NJ and now live in Erie, PA for some reason unknown to me.
That's our story in a nutshell. :]