Europeans tell me that I can pass for any of the nationalities of continental northwestern Europe. I started hearing this in 2007 when I started to meet real Europeans, and it continues. Some guess specific single countries; some say "it could be one of several;" in either case, it's always northwestern Europe.
What's remarkable is that they're right. I am, in fact, of half Scandinavian, 3/8ths German, and 1/8th Colonial New England ancestry (the ultimate-country-origins of this last line I haven't learned but odds are good, given who settled in Colonial New England, that it is entirely northwestern European, as well). (See Also: post-223: "Kinsfolk By the Millions").
This year, 2015, was the first Christmas that I was in the USA since 2010, and only the third of the past ten years. It's good to be in the USA, but it's good to be abroad, too.
I attended several Christmas Eve services with family. One was at the Swedish Lutheran church in Washington, D.C. (whose existence I was unaware of; my father had apparently been before. They hold worship service in Swedish on the first Sunday of each month). It was actually a combined Christmas Eve service of the Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish churches of Washington D.C., and the Icelandic Church Abroad. In fact, it was Swedish led and used their space. The limits of egalitarianism: One of the churches' names does have to come at the top of the program (see below)...
I appreciated this service. It reminded me of Estonia (the closest I've yet gotten to Scandinavia), which is another Lutheran country except that it was, for some reason, about 70 Fahrenheit [20 C] out that day.
A clearer view of the sign taken in spring (found online):
I happen to have come to stop by John Redin's grave several times over the past ten years. It is in an old family cemetery near Interstate 66, behind a church and easily accessible by one of Arlington's bike trails, which is how I came to pass by so many times. (More on the cemetery.)
The rear-right-most grave below is John Redin's.
In many ways, John Redin was no one special, and, in fact, I suspect that this post may be the most ever written about him in one place, at least after his lifetime, though I'd be glad to learn I am wrong about that. Hundreds were already living in Arlington by the time he will have arrived, but anyway John Redin was an early Arlingtonian, and that's reason enough to remember him.
A new informational sign in memory of John Redin was erected as part of a 2013 eagle scout project. (See below.)
The new sign will definitely draw many more visitors up from the bike trail, and the proof of such is already to be seen. The flags by his grave were not there in the 2000s, as I recall (when I first read the faded words on the gravestone), nor in 2011, when I think I last stopped by. A fair number of coins, a lollipop, and some other candy in a wrapper were all left there this time. This for a man no one knows. He's been waiting a long while for that kind of attention...
What can we reasonably suppose about his origin? We know his regiment was raised in southern Virginia (mustered into Continental Army service February 1776 at Williamsburg). This strongly suggests that southern Virginia is where Redin originally lived after emigrating from England, which further suggests that he came to Virginia as an indentured servant (because had he been free in those days, and not bound by a term of indenture in some trade, presumably he would have gone to the frontier for free land, and not stuck around eastern Virginia).
John Redin's regiment was at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778, the low point for the American rebels, when one in six American soldiers died of cold, disease, or malnutrition, others became too sick or weak to fight, and many others deserted and went home. The 6th Virginia regiment entered Valley Forge with 237 men and left the next spring with 88, a 63% loss of strength without so much as an actual battle.
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