A Strange Thing

A Strange Thing

A strange thing happened on the way to the convention center…in Raleigh, North Carolina, that is.

Diane and I were there last week to attend the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference. Several thousand members and friends descended on Raleigh, many looking for clues to their family history, the places of their origin and unknown relatives through DNA databases. There were three “class” time slots before lunch and three more after lunch each day. In each time slot, eight options were offered, for a total of 144 different sessions, not including options for Saturday which had an abbreviated schedule of only 24. People learned how to interpret DNA evidence, search military records for every North American conflict beginning with the French & Indian War and continuing through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the “Recent Unpleasantries Between the States”, two World Wars, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam conflict, Desert Storm and the Second Persian Gulf War.

I attended a session led by a woman who lost 167 family members in the Holocaust. Believing all of her family (except her own parents who survived stays at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen) to have perished, she was amazed to find her family DNA indicated that at least two of her parents’ siblings survived and so she went looking for them in Poland and Sweden. For the first time in her life, she had cousins! She also went to Germany, Poland and Hungary to look for the towns where her ancestors had lived before the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. She found several of them and even found some folks who had known her grandparents and great grandparents. At an archive she found records of weddings and other matters which miraculously escaped destruction during the Nazi occupation. There was not a dry eye in the house.

But back to the strange thing that happened on the way to the convention center…. Raleigh has a free bus line that encircles the downtown area called the “Circulator”. We rode it to and from the hotel each day. On the first morning, there were a lot of eager conferees waiting to board. As the bus arrived and we piled on, filling seats AND the aisle, two young men, already on the bus, graciously gave up their seats for others and then stepped off the bus to make more room. It happened again the next day as well. Sure, they caught the next bus, but it was encouraging to see young people being so thoughtful. I think of it as sign that God’s children have reason for hope!

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