The first Sunday in July is the date of the Annual Martin Family Reunion in Smiths Grove, Kentucky. For the past twenty years, we have worn nametags that show the years of the Reunions we have attended. At our recent gathering, we had a large number of family members. Several of these had not attended in several years.
We always try to handle the registration in the beginning. The nametags were arranged somewhat alphabetically on a large table beside a registration book. This tall young man walked into the hall and said, "I probably don't have a nametag." Since I have been handling the nametags and registration for more than 20 years, I thought I remembered this young man. I said, "Clay, I think I still have your nametag, but you can have a new nametag if you want."
When this young man was a small boy, we were using pin-back nametags. In order not to hurt the kids, I brought peel and stick nametags for them. Clay was beginning to write and I let him write his name on the nametag. When we collected nametags, I placed Clay's on top of a blank nametag and saved it.
It was at that point that I realized that our nametags carry the story of our reunion from year to year. The other day I asked this question: How important are reunions for creating a sense of family to young people? I now realize that family reunions are what created my interest in genealogy. Family reunions have given me the opportunity to know many of my numbered cousins and those removed. Clay will be graduating from High School next year and may not have realized the connection to his Martin family, but someday He will tell his kids - I wrote my name on that nametag before the year 2000.
That is what Family Reunions are about - they are a connection to something that lasts longer than one person. Thanks, Clay, for reminding me of our purpose - Keeping the Story Alive.