Joseph Ulrich

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How important is your ancestry to you?

Do you feel your heritage makes you a unique person? How much of an impact do your ancestors have on your life?

I was looking through some very old family photographs last weekend and I found a photo of my great, great, grandfather. He was posed with his wife and two children in Prussian military uniform; a gentleman of Prussia's great era. I then realized how important my fathers, great and grand, have had an impact on me. And listening to the stories about them, I clearly see their qualities in my brother and I as well. My ancestors clearly lay out the image of the person I am today.

So I am curious, how have your forefathers and ancestors impacted your life?

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    Aug 18 2011: What you don't know won't hurt you!!

    For me personally, I don't feel any connection to my anscestry (though I think it means more to others in different circumstances). Its fun to dig back and find out stuff, but it has no bearing on what I do moving forward.

    My immediate and extended family means much more.
  • Ann Lee

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    Aug 18 2011: My ancestry does not directly influence my life but I feel knowing about my family's origins helped me find a better sense of belonging in this world and allowed me to know how I am rooted. I can trace back up to the last 4 generations and my family were farmers (like most of China back then). I feel through that kind of lifestyle, qualities like frugality, not taking things for granted, and love of education/learning (a privilege) are developed and passed on.
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    Aug 18 2011: According to the recollect of my grandfather, my ancestors are perhaps refugees move from north china to south china, i know nothing about them, but i think they must be brave and strong,or they cannot survive from the massacre and famine in early 20th century china.
    Besides this , i also find some great people in china history who have same family name with me, i think they are also my ancestors, they shape course of china history by they sacrifice,wise and power.Especially a regent in Han dynasty called Caocao , he ended war across china mainland and opened the most tolerant age in China history. I admire them, read their autobiography , learn form them, and wish to do something to help others like they did.
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    Aug 17 2011: In this era of connectivity, while many are striving for global huminity it's an interesting question really. Because too much importance on ancestry may bring forward another kind of division among global community.

    Across the culture , country, community it is very much visible how ancestry shapes up one's life, specially the ancestral power & money even in the so called developed society , it's like a pseudo kinghood that tried to be passed through generations. A kid of billioner & kid of poor farmer, starts life quite differently. So it's difficult to disagree the importance of ancestry and not necessary even.....

    To me it does not matter how significant or insignificant one's ancestry in terms of power or money was.... only thing matters how humane ancestry was. Even if someone finds her/his ancestry was not that humane doesn't matter s/he can learn from those mistake and can drive a new ancestry for her/his next generation with their own power of humanity..........

    I am fond of a poetry written in my language which says......
    I am talkiing about a ancestry
    I am talking about a legacy
    Thats my heritage, that's what I am now...
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    Aug 17 2011: Joseph,

    I have actually put a little time into this area and I found it very interesting. I have been looking up more family name history going back hundreds of years.

    It turns out there are strong links to both French and English noblity through the name De Courtenay. Ironically, being Scottish, there was a Knight with this name who was killed at Bannockburn in 1314 - He was fighting for the English!!!

    For me, ancestry is very important as I like to know where and what I have come from. I feel it gives us a further, deeper sense of identity ( I see this a lot in North America, where people are so proud of their Irish and Scots roots).

    Now, I'm probably not of royal blood, but I would like to think that I would have chivalric qualities if the situation called for it! :)

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    Aug 17 2011: For me, a sense of pride comes to mind when thinking about them.Some of my forefathers were ministers of great empires of the East, some were rich traders who ventured out from Arabia to settle down in Malaya and some were warriors who fought off the country's enemies.When I think about them,I know that I too,have the possibility of being just as great as they were.
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    Aug 21 2011: I think that the answers you get will depend upon where people are from; for what I have noticed in my travels (and even in some parts of the USA), is that for some people, ancestry is just about everything depending upon the culture.

    As for me being an American, there really hasn't been much of an impact in my life due to my ancestors. I am 50/50 German and Lithuanian and really only certain German traits from my father's side have stayed with me like cleanliness! I remember family gatherings growing up, but I also remember them as being cold in a way and not very demonstrative compared to when I would visit the Italian side of my uncle who married an Italian woman. It was like night and day as was the food!!

    Now as far as my Lithuanian roots go, well, I had thought up until the Berlin Wall fell that I was Russian, for that is what my mom always told me I was as she felt since Lithuania was part of USSR, it didn't matter, But when that wall fell, she had a confessed, and I was like MOTHER!!! THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT CULTURES! And that did mess me up a bit. I had known that her parents fled during the Revolution with 3 teenagers, and had 3 more here in America one after another. However, when my mom was 2, she ended up in an orphanage as both her parents were killed in a car accident. She had told me too, that they had been aristocracy back home, but I just dismissed it as a "story" since she really didn't have much proof of anything as her birth records and those of her siblings were lost in a West Virgina flood (so she told me), and all that could be found on her was her baptismal certificate that was located when she wanted to work fduring WWII. And when she found out about it, she discovered that she was really almost year older than they thought she was when she came to the orphanage! Can you believe that! SO really from her, I don't know that much, but I think I DO need to find out if her story was right as it could be interesting!
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    Aug 19 2011: Not very much.

    I don't buy into those suggestions that "you have to know where you came from to know where you are going".

    Everyone struggles for identity. It's probably easier to take your cue from others and having some blood-line connection probably makes this seem more legitimate. But I don't see it.
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      Aug 19 2011: Scott,

      You pose a very fair point.

      Looking back at my own comment, I think I would replace "very important" with "very interesting". How much will this info affect my future? Not very much - a fun story to tell perhaps, and an irrational urge to buy a suit of armour. But that's just me.

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      Aug 20 2011: I agree to an extent. My ancestors don't provide a destiny for me. I am not destined to become a farmer or great military man, my life is completely in my own hands; However I do feel that in knowing that my family is traced back to the dukes of Swabia, it gives me a sense of pride, and as Cathy Dai states earlier, "a sense of belonging in this world". I have a presence in history through them, and they have a presence here and now through me. Without them, I would not exist. Every choice that they made affected whether I am here today, my brother, parents, grandparents and so on, all became of the choices that my family and early kindred have made for a hundred years, and if you really thought about it; all the way to the dawn of man itself.

      It definitely gives me that spark within to make something great of my life, and to continue to spread that admiration of family history on to my children for generations.