Veteran's Day in the United States is a day for honoring those that have served, fought, and continue to fight to protect the freedoms and liberties our country was founded on. It is a day that every citizen should take time to reflect on the men and women of our Armed Forces; their sacrifices and acts of bravery, their families who wait at home with pride and honor. It is a day in the family history community that many of us share memories of our military ancestry, and their role in the history of this country.
Each of them is a hero in their own right.
"A flash, barely visible in the glare of the sun, a report, unnoticed in the noise of the battle, a faint puff of vapor, and as it cleared away we realized that five of our comrades in danger had been wounded, killed, destroyed by an enemy's projectile." ~ Lieutenant Ernest E. Mead
The story having been told, with regular variations, of the death of a comrade in arms. This time, from a witness on board the "Hudson" while engaged in a battle in the Harbor of Cardenas during the Spanish-American War. Referring to the deaths from the vessel "Winslow," including the only Naval Officer to be killed during this engagement, Ensign Worth Bagley of North Carolina.
Bagley, like so many other Americans, descended from a long line of military veterans. His father, Major William H. Bagley served in the 68th North Carolina Regiment for the Confederacy. Colonel William H. Bagley, his grandfather; William Bagley, his great grandfather a veteran of the War of 1812; and Thomas Bagley, his 2nd great grandfather, served during the Revolutionary War. On that fateful day, May 12, 1898, in the waters off of the shores of Cuba, he struggled alongside his crewman to retrieve a line being offered from the Winslow, so that they could be pulled to safety. He was said to be composed, even smiling, in those last moments, and is quoted, "All right, let her come, this is getting too hot for comfort." Ensign Bagley had three naval vessels named for him, and a fourth honor was shared with his brother, Admiral David W. Bagley.
The Bagley story is not unique to this country, as generation after generation walked bravely into the Armed Forces. At times carrying little more than a gun, some simple supplies, and their bravery, the heroes of our country come from all the corners and crevices of our nation. They certainly deserve recognition and honor today; they deserve their stories to be told, passed down from generation to generation.
You can read the entirety of the Worth Bagley story, and a short biography, in American Naval Heroes: Ensign Worth Bagley, (1874-1898) the First Naval Officer Killed in Action in the Spanish-American War, originally published in the May 1914 edition of Americana, now part of the PERSI collection available on Findmypast.