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Personal Adds: Pandemic provides new appreciation for technology, family treasures

Personal Adds: Pandemic provides new appreciation for technology, family treasures

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During this pandemic, we’ve come to embrace — and curse — technology. This week, I’m especially grateful for it.

All across the country, I know my cousins, aunts, uncles and other family members tuned in Wednesday to watch the military funeral honors for my uncle, retired Lt. Col. John R. “Bobby” Gillespie, at Arlington National Cemetery.

My Dad was one of 10 children, and Bobby was one of his older brothers. It’s a big family, and only a handful were able to attend the service in person.

Yet, those of us who knew and loved him stopped what we were doing at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, clicked a link and were able to watch every detail of a very moving service. He had served in the U.S. Air Force, including in Vietnam, where he lost his share of friends.

My uncle passed away Nov. 23, 2019, and despite the delay for his service, witnessing the honor and respect paid to him at Arlington by men and women in uniform was powerful. We watched the horse-drawn carriage carry his remains to the area that would be his final resting place. We listened to crisp, somber notes of taps pierce the air.

Technology delivered on Wednesday, and we were able to share a collective experience that would’ve made my uncle happy.

Just last week, I found a folder of emails that I had printed from various exchanges with him in 1999. I had asked him a lot of questions about the Gillespie family, and he responded with some great stories that I am now able to share with my cousins.

Those old, printed emails are a treasure of stories told in his voice — it’s a small miracle I found them.

If you have emails with family history, print them out. Save them. One day you’ll be glad you did.

Personal Adds is an occasional column reflecting on contemporary life. Send submissions to Kim Mills at kim.mills@greensboro.com.

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