Memorial Day – The Dash in the Middle

Memorial Day will be observed this year on May 29, 2023. Memorial Day has always been special to me as a veteran of 22 years in the U.S. Navy. I live in Northern Virginia about 20 miles west of Arlington National Cemetery. Each year over Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I visit Arlington to pay respects to my fellow patriots who served the country we love. For many years, we visited Section 60 at Arlington. I share the reasons why in a 2022 Memorial Day post HERE.

My Spaulding ancestors have served in military service of our country since its inception. So, this 2023 Memorial Day, I was determined to discover the stories of some of my distant Spaulding cousins buried at Arlington. This is what I discovered: There are 62 Spauldings interned at Arlington National Cemetery. Each one of these patriots has a story. A story of honor, commitment, and of courage. A story of perseverance. A story of love of country. Here are just a few of their accounts.  

PVT Daniel Spaulding, Union Army (1836-1864)

The oldest Spaulding grave at Arlington is that of Private Daniel Spaulding, Company K, 16th Maine Infantry. Private Spaulding was severely wounded in the left leg during the Civil War at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Laurel Hill, Virginia on May 8, 1864. His leg was amputated that same day. Private Spaulding died 12 days later on May 20, 1864 at age 26. Private Daniel Spaulding was interred in the early days of Arlington as the site became a national cemetery one month later on June 15, 1864. He is buried in Section 27, Grave 46.

LTC Jack D. Spaulding, U.S. Marine Corps (1924-1966)

Lieutenant Colonel Jack D. Spaulding served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. This brave Spaulding faithful served his country in three wars before his life was cut short at age 42 when he died in Vietnam. Let that resonate for just a bit. An American hero living just 42 years served our country in three major wars. Prior to his death aboard the U.S. Hospital Ship Repose on October 14, 1966, LTC Jack Spaulding was in command of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. He is buried in Section 3, Grave 2547-B. 

Here’s a father-son Spaulding story at Arlington. A story of father and son who both rose to the rank of brigadier general.

BG Oliver Lyman Spaulding, Union Army (1833-1922)

Brigadier General Oliver L. Spaulding served during the Civil War. Prior to the war, Oliver Spaulding practiced law in Michigan. At the onset of the Civil War, Spaulding was commissioned captain in the 23rd Michigan Infantry. He rose through the officer ranks to brigadier general. Following the war, Spaulding served as Michigan Secretary of State from 1866 to 1870. Spaulding was then elected to the 47th Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives serving Michigan’s 6th district from 1881 to 1883. Brigadier General Oliver L. Spaulding died on July 30, 1922 at age 88. He is buried in Section 1, Grave 432-A.

BG Oliver Lyman Spaulding, Jr., U.S. Army (1875-1947)

Brigadier General Oliver L. Spaulding, Jr. served during World Wars I and II. Like his father, he was educated in law graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1896. Two years later, Spaulding was commissioned second lieutenant in in the U.S. Army’s field artillery brigade. During World War I, Spaulding commanded several field artillery brigades in the European theater. Again, like his father, he rose to the rank of brigadier general. Spaulding was the author of six books to include: The United States Army In War and Peace (four volumes) (1937), Pen And Sword In Greece and Rome (1937), and Ahriman, A Study In Aerial Bombardment (1939). Oliver Lyman Spaulding, Jr. died on March 27, 1947 and is buried in Section 1, Grave 224 at Arlington. 

COL Edward Chandler Spaulding, U.S. Army (1912-1975)

Oliver L. Spaulding Jr.’s son and Oliver L. Spaulding Sr.’s grandson, Colonel Edward Chandler Spaulding, U.S. Army followed the family tradition of service to country. Edward served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He died on July 31, 1975 (just 30 days after I joined the U.S. Navy) and is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. 

Reflect back on this for a moment. A continuous line of service from the Civil War, to World Wars I and II, to Korea, and to Vietnam with a father, son, and grandson. Indeed, this Spaulding family line was dedicated and devoted to the United States of America. 

HM3 Richard Lee Spaulding, U.S. Navy (1946-1967)

Although not interned at Arlington, HM3 Spaulding is remembered on the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, DC. This memorial, located just one mile from Arlington, lists the names of 58,318 Americans who gave their lives in service to their country during the Vietnam War. 

HM3 Spaulding was a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman (combat medic) serving with the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Amphibious Force in Vietnam. When I served in the U.S. Navy, I remember well my shipboard Independent Duty Corpsman we’d affectionally call “doc”. They are a special breed – the best of the best. Why? The Independent Duty Corpsmen are hospital corpsmen who have reached the pinnacle of Navy Medicine. These highly trained sailors serve on land or at sea alongside Navy and Marine Corps warfighters where no medical officer (doctor) is assigned.

HM3 Spaulding was killed in action, alongside the Marines he cared for, in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam on September 10, 1967. He is honored on panel 26E, line 52 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. HM3 Spaulding is buried in Section P, Site 1668 in the Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. 

The Dash in the Middle

Take a look back at the birth and death years of the men above. What you see between these two years is “the dash in the middle”. We have no control over our birth year, and in most cases, no control over our death year – these dates are the prerogative of Almighty God. What we do have some control over is the “dash in the middle” which represents our life. And with regard to the brevity of life that Billy Graham once spoke of, we need to make the best out of the dash in the middle that God gives us. 

The Spaulding men, highlighted in today’s post. lived life sacrificially, with honor and courage. They gave their “dash in the middle” for their country. 

This Memorial Day weekend, I’d encourage you to reflect on your family members who served our country that are no longer with you. I’d encourage you to do some research and potentially discover an ancestor who faithfully defended the country you love today. Perhaps you have an ancestor who is buried at Arlington that you aren’t aware of? You can search the Arlington National Cemetery database for your last name HERE.

Get to know these patriots. Learn how they lived their “dash in the middle”. Share their stories with your family this Memorial Day. 

One Year Anniversary

This month (May 2023) marks the one-year anniversary of the release of my book. Fortitude: Preserving 400 Years of an American Family’s Faith, Patriotism, Grit and Determination was published on May 24, 2022 by Gatekeeper Press.

It’s been an amazing year as I’ve developed many new friendships in writing this book. I’ve met distant cousins, fellow authors, historians, and others passionate about family history. If you’d like to learn more about Fortitude, please check out my website HERE. I would love for you to read the book as it just may encourage you to craft your family history narrative!


  1. Feature Image: “Taps, Bugle, Army, Military Funeral, Arlington National Cemetery” by Beverly & Pack is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit
  2. Gravestone of LTC Jack Spaulding, U.S. Marine Corps. Accessed at on February 22, 2023. 
  3. Gravestone of BG Oliver Lyman Spaulding, Jr., U.S. Army. Accessed at–/ on February 22, 2023. 
  4. Gravestone of HM3 Richard Lee Spaulding, U.S. Navy. Accessed at on February 22, 2023. 

Published by Dale Spaulding

Family historian and author of Fortitude.

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