One Veteran I’ll never forget is…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Veteran I’ll never forget is…


His name was Mike.

He was born and baptized in a small village in Germany in 1838. At the age of 14, he and his family ventured across sea to a new home, a new world, a new life. They arrived in 1852 aboard Brig Hector and settled in Frankenmuth, a German community in lower Michigan. Though the family had not long called America “home,” Mike and his brothers proved their loyalty to her in their service during the Civil War. Mike’s great-grandson, Alois, wrote the following:

          When the first call for troops came in the fall of 1861, [Mike] and his brother John George joined the 3rd Michigan Cavalry. He served almost three years before he was captured by Southern forces while on scout duty. Johann Michael was tried and convicted of being a spy and sentenced to be shot. The day before his sentence was to be carried out, through some mistake of the Confederate officers, he was exchanged along with other Northern prisoners and spared.

Mike should have died. Mike was supposed to die. It boggles my mind to think about how he survived “by mistake.” Though Mike’s actions proved he was willing to give his life for his new country, he must have breathed a sigh of relief when he was released. And even after such an escapade, after being honorably discharged, Mike re-enlisted.

But really think about that—Mike should have died. The plan was for Mike to die. Before he met his wife, before he had any children (and boy, did he have a lot of children), before anyone except his parents and siblings would have missed him, Mike was supposed to die.

His name was Mike. And though there are many who’ve served in the course of our nation’s history that I’ll never forget, though each soldier has a story of his own that brings a chill to my spine, Mike is special. Mike was supposed to die, and he lived by accident. His name was Mike. His kids probably called him ‘dad.’ His wife probably called him ‘dear.’ My grandpa probably called him ‘grandpa.’

Johann Michael Schmitzer is our immigrant ancestor, my great-great Grandfather, your great-great-great Grandfather, the son of a tailor, a farmer by trade, a German by birth, a Lutheran by faith, a soldier who was sentenced to death, who, by some accident—by some miracle—was released.

If all had gone according to plan that day, there would have been no children (Ernst George Schmitzer); no grandchildren (Herman Carl Schmitzer); no great-grandchildren (Heidi Lynne Schmitzer); no me, no you. More than one man, more than one child or grandchild, more than one family: An entire clan would never have existed.

Do you feel a big sense of purpose in the world right now? I hope you do. I pray you do. So many men and women have given their lives to defend our liberty. For whatever reason, God saw fit to spare Mike that day—sparing you and me, as well.

This is your life, kids. What will you do with it?

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

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