I've never been a soldier, nor in a war -- neither was my father, my grandfathers, nor any of their fathers and grandfathers. According to family tradition my grandmother's great grandmother was seduced by a French officer in 1848, but otherwise you have to go back to the War of 1812 and the Revolution to find any of my ancestors actually taking up a weapon for battle. What's remarkable is that, except for some Scots-Irish latecomers who didn't get here until 1871, all the others were here for the Civil War, yet managed not to serve.
There is a family tradition that one of my ancestors had volunteered to join the Union Army, but he and his friend had to clear trees before they left. My several-times great grandfather managed to drop one of the trees on himself -- breaking both his legs, and so he never made it into the army. His friend, on the other hand, went to the war and he never returned.
I was thinking of that story as I worked to fell the big maple tree by the shed. In the end, I didn't drop the thing on myself, nor on the shed -- though the treefall may have murdered some of Nico's cedars. But now the mulberry tree will get sunlight.