The Chosen

When I started seriously persuing my ancestry a number of years ago, I came across this poem.  I called it "The Story Tellers" - until I recently learned that the author called it "We Are the Chosen".   (A reader tracked this down and let me know - thanks!)   And - thank you, Della M Cumming!

Many of you have probably seen it - but if you're like me, you can stand to read it again.  For those of you who haven't seen it before - I hope you love it half as much as I do.  Her formatting was prettier than mine.  You'll find it at this site:

p.s. - I updated this posting to reflect the author info


We Are the Chosen ...


My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called

  • to find the ancestors
  • to put flesh on their bones and make them live again
  • to tell the family story
  • and to feel that somehow they know and approve.


To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.


We are the story tellers of the tribe.  All tribes have one.  We have been called as it were by our genes.  Those who have gone before cry out to us:


"Tell our story."  So, we do.  In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.


How many graves have I stood before now and cried?  I have lost count.

  • How many times have I told the ancestors "you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us"?
  • How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me?  I cannot say.


It goes beyond just documenting facts.

  • It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do?
  • It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.
  • The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.
  • It goes to doing something about it.


It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.   How they contributed to what we are today.

  • It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
  • It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.
  • It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.


That we might be born who we are; That we might remember them.  So we do.

  • With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them, and they are us.
  • So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.
  • It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.


That, is why I do my family genealogy.


... and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.



We are the chosen.

Della M. Cumming, c1943


Author of the poem

The author of the poem is Della M. Cumming and the title is "We Are The Chosen", c1943. 

Here is a link to the poem:

"We Are The Chosen"

Moving and quite beautiful. I was moved to start this search of mine in June of 2008. Ken Hogan


Thank you for sharing the poem again. It speaks to me in thoughts I have had many times but certainly could not express in this beautiful way.

feelings described perfectly

Don't we wish we could wake them and hear the secrets they hold? Then again, isn't it fun to discover the sleeping facts for ourselves, make an unexpected,audible shriek in the courthouse or library, or in the early morning hours when the computer has "given up the ghost." Answers do come, hopefully, maybe someday!