The following article was written by Amanda Metzger, a MichaelSavage.com contributor.
I always wondered about the color of my eyes.
They’re not quite blue. They’re not hazel, brown or green.
No one else in my immediate family has this eye color — not my parents or siblings.
Then I uncovered a U.S. Civil War service record belonging to my great great great-grandfather, Henry Weisel, an immigrant who voluntarily joined the Union Army during a deeply divided time in our country’s history.
"Grey" was written in perfect cursive on the line next to "Eyes"on this 150-year-old document.
My eyes are grey.
There is a ring around the pupil that looks sort of green, but then the color swirls out like a kaleidoscope to a dark gunmetal grey. Suddenly my ancestors became more than names on a family tree. Yes, clearly we have DNA in common, but what else besides eye color might we share?
I began to wonder about what this Civil War veteran would think of forces working to divide our country today by erasing its borders, language and culture.
Henry was 14 years old when he came to America. He was the son of Enoch Weisel and Catharine Cline who immigrated with their children to the United States from Germany around 1850. They journeyed across the Atlantic on a vessel called Marathon. Next step was to get through Ellis Island. Eventually they settled in Kentucky to work in agriculture.
Like the other immigrants of that time they never asked for a handout or expected the government to take care of them. That idea would have been foreign to these farmers who sought to plow their own path to a brighter future. They didn’t come here to take. They came here to give.
Unfortunately their promised land of America, the El Dorado they struggled to find, was about to be torn asunder and their lives were caught in the middle.
Henry, age 26, volunteered to fight for the Union. How did this happen that my ancestor with grey eyes came to wear a blue jacket and tote a gun for his new country, especially since he was living in Kentucky, a border state during the Civil War. His brother John, age 31, also decided to enlist. Both of them joined the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, a Union regiment.
Both of them were immigrants who came here legally and chose to fight to preserve the United States as one nation. They believed in it so much they gave their lives for the cause.
Less than a year after enlisting Henry died in a field hospital in Athens, Alabama.
His brother would never see 1863. He was killed on New Year’s Eve in action in Stone River, Tennessee.
Kentucky was a border state during the onset of the Civil War — a place where "brother against brother" was very real. Kentucky declared neutrality at the beginning of the Civil War, but after a failed attempt by a Confederate general to take the state, the legislature petitioned the Union Army for assistance and was largely under Union control by the end.
When Henry enlisted in November 1862 he left behind several children and a pregnant wife. The child that was born after he left is my great great-grandfather John Wellington Whistle. The name Weisel was Americanized.
This is my heritage, and because of this twist of fate, I’m sitting here in my comfortable chair writing this.
But I can’t just sit here. I need to fight like they did, any way I can to preserve our country and its borders, language and culture of liberty.
This was when I decided it was not enough to watch the news and sit idly by as the country crumbled while I fiddled with my iPhone.
So that my ancestors did not die in vain, I must not live in vanity.
The culture of this new land must have been so dear to my 3x great-grandfather he felt the need to protect and preserve it, even though he only lived here 12 years.
I don’t know what dreams he had but I think Henry’s decision to enlist and fight for the Union reveals one. He hoped to play a part in preserving a unified country with a culture of freedom and self-reliance.
I won the lottery when I was born in the United States of America.
It’s fun to travel to other countries and experience their cultures, eat their food and meet their people. When it’s time to come home, I can feel the culture and ideals of the United States streaming through my blood. They are fused with my DNA thanks to Henry Weisel, who believed in the United States so much he gave his life.
Obviously he saw value in fighting to preserve our national identity as Americans. He was fighting for the Union.
I wonder what he would think of U.S. universities giving scholarships specifically to illegal immigrant students?
How would they feel about how easy it is for them to get benefits funded by American taxpayers?
What would our ancestors who struggled to get to America think of what’s happening at our borders now?
How would they feel about the alarming statistic that DNA testing by ICE revealed one-third of their test subjects were lying about their relationship to children they had illegally brought across the U.S. border?
What would they think of recent reports that the Department of Homeland Security released thousands of illegal immigrants into the U.S. over the course of 8 days?
I consider myself in debt to those who came before me and appreciate the privilege to pay them back however I can, never taking for granted the freedoms of this country and remembering to protect them.
They say an old soldier never dies — Romney a he just fades away. While Henry died a young soldier, I hope to ensure he never fades away as we remember all who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day.
A National Radio Hall of Fame recipient, Savage has hosted his radio show for over 25 years and launched The Savage Nation Podcast in January of 2019 with one of the most successful podcast debuts. With millions of listeners, The Savage Nation is one of the top programs in America, broadcasting on more than 200 stations nationwide. A prolific New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Savage has been profiled in Playboy and The New Yorker, and he has been awarded the Freedom of Speech Award by Talkers magazine. He received his PhD in epidemiology and nutrition sciences from the University of California at Berkeley. To read more of his reports —