Here at KX News, we’re proud of our armed forces, and the Veterans that have served our country. That’s why over the next month, we’re telling stories of our local community Veterans in a special series called Veterans Voices.
The Wilkinson family is made up of generations of Marines and others who have fought for our country. They have relatives who fought in the Civil War to the Vietnam War and are even still serving.
We sat down with three of the family members who talked about their experiences through it all.
Douglas Wilkinson served in the Marine Corps from 1987-1991. His brother, Cedrick served from 1989-1993 and their aunt, Gloria served from 1967- 1970. All their journey’s started out a little differently.
“It was a time of need for people to serve their country and native people are usually some of the first people to do that,” said Gloria. “Whether they do it on their own or they are drafted but this is something we do because this is our native land.”
“We were born into it. Our mother was very tough on us and told us that her father told us to raise us this way. He told her to be tough on us and she was tough on us,” Douglas said.
Eleven Wilkinson family members have been apart of the Marine Corps. And two more will be added soon. Both Cedrick and Douglas’s daughters are in combat training for the Marine Corps.
“Everyday that I come into this house or wake up in the morning and I look at the picture behind me and see my daughter,” said Cedrick.
Cedrick has a whole wall of the history of his family set up in his living room. They tell me some of the struggles they faced throughout each era.
“What the hardest part was during the ’60s and this was during the time of the riots and military people were really put down and there was a lot of violence and would even get beat up, so it wasn’t something so you were really proud of,” said Gloria.
“I spent a lot of Christmas’ away,” said Douglas.
“My second son was born and I came back and he was born and I didn’t see him again until he was 10 months old. You see a lot of things and I just want to share this from what I saw was tough was how poor people were out there.”
But they said what kept them going through the tough times was the support they got from their family and community.
“I remember walking in there and saying Wilkinson you have packages and I’m like ‘ok.’ And the next thing they say Wilkinson you have a lot of packages and they were like you are going to need some help picking these up. They sent cookies, they sent chips, they sent cards and just all kinds of stuff– stuff that we didn’t think we were going to get that day. There was so much stuff that I shared with my whole platoon and they were so happy,” said Cedrick.
For the Wilkinson family, no matter if it’s their brother, sister, aunt or uncle, they are proud to see their legacy keep going on.
“My daughter wrote me and told me, ‘Dad I know I have given my whole life to this,’ and she’s injured and she’s going to stick it out. And she goes, ‘I know how you feel’ and that’s how the military is. It just makes us really proud and that the tradition will be carried on,” said Douglas.
“Once a Marine always a Marine,” Gloria said.
“Never a former Marine or an ex-Marine. You are always a Marine,” said Cedrick.
The Wilkinson family wants to say thank you to all the Veterans and everyone, including their Native American family, for always supporting them throughout it all.