A century after World War I, a veteran’s family gathered together on Saturday to accept his awards from the Veterans Legacy Foundation.
The sounds of tears from the family filled the small conference room when they accepted awards for Harold Ray’s duties during World War I.
According to John Elskamp, the director of the Veterans Legacy Foundation, research by the foundation allows veterans and families to recognize accomplishments.
The late WWI veteran, Ray, was born in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, in May of 1896. He worked as a car inspector for the Southern Railway before joining the Army in 1918. After attending boot camp at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, he was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers. He later moved to the Transportation Corps.
The foundation honored Ray with the World War I Victory Medal and the N.C. WWI Service Medal. His daughter, Mildred Livesey, 93, accepted the awards on his behalf at the ceremony.
The World War I Victory Medal is a bronze medal donned with a rainbow ribbon. The medal was created in 1919 to honor those who fought in the first world war.
Family Accepts Veteran’s Awards 100 Years After He Serves in WWI
The N.C. WWI Service Medal is a bronze medal hanging by a red-white-and-blue-striped ribbon from the North Carolina General Assembly. The Assembly voted to honor as many veterans as possible with the award bearing the state crest in 1920.
According to Harold’s grandson, he was inspired to ensure his grandfather was honored after reading an article in the Post.
His grandson, Doug, said his grandfather never talked much about his experience of serving in the war. Still, he learned about his experience serving from his father, including the importance of transporting supplies to soldiers in need.
When resources were far and few between, his grandfather used pieces of tree limbs, rocks, and anything else he could find to shoot through cannons.
According to the family, shrapnel from a bullet or ammunition hit Ray during an explosion. According to Doug, Ray had to have a metal plate installed in his head. He passed away in 1978. He was 72-years-old.
“During the presentation, I heard things that are now true and part of public record that I had only heard through family members and my own dad,” Doug said. “It brought tears to my eyes, and everyone was willing to come. This is a big thing. It’s 103 years after the war.”
Denise Daugherty, Livesey’s daughter and Harold’s granddaughter, also said that the family knew Harold honored his country. Yet, for them, it was meaningful to learn the full story during the ceremony.
“This brings our family all together and it makes me feel like granddaddy’s here,” she said emotionally.