Back row, from left, are Claus Miedema and Steve Bosma, and in front, Wild Bill Miedema and Jacob Boomsma, a retired Huron farmer. Bosma created a family history brochure including the extensive family military history. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
The Dutch Boomsma, Miedema and Bosma families, known for their military service to the U.S. and intertwined family histories, met for a reunion and celebration of their heritage in South Dakota this summer.
About 120 Dutch relatives attended the Sunday, July 28, celebration at the Crossroads. People came from all over the United States, including Arkansas, Arizona, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Iowa, California, Nevada and South Dakota. An additional reunion was held on Thursday, July 25, in Rapid City.
“We met in the old church there in Rapid City and visited the gravesite of our ancestors,” said coordinator, Steve Bosma. Bosma prepared detailed family history biography brochures that included the Boomsma/Bosma/Miedema’s service in the U.S., a memoir of Steve Bosma’s own life and a brochure titled “Those ‘Dam’ Ships,” describing the Dutch ships that their families came to the U.S. on in 1911.
“I put together all of the brochures. I researched, made visits back to the relatives, and then all of the family history my mother and father passed down to me,” said Bosma.
Steve said that his parents first came from the Netherlands to America to seek a better life for themselves and for their children.
“There is a caste system in the Netherlands. A lot of people don’t know about that. And it’s not as bad now as it was, but in those days —you were in the top class because you owned property or you had education,” he said. “Momma actually was above my father. My father’s family had little or nothing. Well, he was a farmer and he was the youngest. In those days, all of the equipment and stuff went to the oldest son only. So when they got married they weren’t accepted in either class because Dad married above his class and Mom married down.”
However, after moving to America, they were able to prosper and establish successful careers.
Bosma also shared his rich family heritage in military service. He said the Dutch families took pride in serving the country that brought them freedom.
“Not all of my relatives served, but every one of them possible did serve,” said Bosma.“It is a family legacy that we would serve our country.”
Steve himself served in the U.S. army in the First Cavalry Division, Army Far East Command, South Dakota Army National Gaurd, Montana National Guard, California National Gaurd and U.S. Army Reserve. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with full benefits.
“I didn’t see a lot of challenges in the service because I was a big, husky farm boy, just what they want. I could march all day. I could dig fox holes. So I adjusted quickly to it,” said Bosma.
After becoming a Colonel, his time was split between leaderships skills such as marching, teaching others to march, drilling and proper uniform as well as military bearing (military courtesy).
He experienced many of the “events” that now mark our nation’s history, including the riots and racial conflicts of the 1960s.
“Watt’s Riot was the first of the really modern-day riots at that time,” said Bosma. “We actually did road blocks. And patrols. We would do it for reconnaissance; for intelligence. Where were the people moving to? We were trained to break up a big mob and disperse them,” he said. “They ran us down with their cars when we were doing road blocks and threw Molotav cocktails at us. It was a pent-up frustration on their part.”
As Colonel, Bosma had officers and sergeants trying to keep the peace in the midst of the riots who were both African American as well as Caucasian.
“The Watt’s police department had all whites,” said Bosma. “A woman there told me once, ‘I’ve never seen a black man in a leadership position.’” However, Bosma said, he believed in complete integration. Following suit, Watt’s police department later integrated shortly after the riots.
“Remember,” said Bosma, “This was all in 1965.”
Likewise, many of Bosma’s relatives, those of the Boomsmas, Bosmas and Miedemas, served in the U.S. military during major turning points in history, including both WWI and WWII.
Besides their service, the three family lines also had common careers.
“The similarity between the Boomsa’s, Mediema’s and Bosma’s was that they all came in as farmers,” said Steve.
Today, most of the Boomsma’s, Mediema’s and Bosma’s have continued to cultivate the farming heritage of their Dutch ancestors.
Meanwhile, they continue to keep their history alive as they look forward to future reunions and conventions in honor of their past and support of their posterity.For the complete article see the 10-13-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-13-2013 paper.
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