Do you ever hear a phrase that reminds you of somebody? Like something your dad would’ve said? I heard something recently, and I thought, “That is so my dad.” Like my dad used to love to say, “Keep your chin up,” if I was going through something hard. Funny how I’ve used that phrase a lot, especially lately.
We had Father’s Day recently, and I’ve had some weird things happen right before it that have brought my dad to the forefront. Now, I lost him about 21 years ago so this is just not something I was expecting. I was watching 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago, and they had a special on Memorial Day by Andy Rooney, taped back in 2005. I had walked out of the room before the end of it, when I heard Hubby yelling my name. I had gotten on the computer and he yelled, “Come here, come here, come here, come here.” I couldn’t imagine what was so urgent. By the time I got back to the TV, I had missed “it” so we had to pull up the 60 Minutes commentary online to watch the very end of it. Hubby was positive he saw a photograph of my dad during WWII. I thought to myself what are the odds of that? Probably not. Then when I saw the photograph, I knew it was him.
I got out a picture of him during that same time frame, and compared it to him. The angle was very similar. I looked at the ears which are like a fingerprint, the eyebrows, the eyes, the nose, the chin, the jawline, the mouth, the hairline; it was him. So I emailed my siblings and told them what to do to see the photograph. They pulled it up and watched the end and all the pictures of different soldiers from World War II. Without a doubt, they all agreed it was him. I had always wondered what it would be like if I was looking at a World War II special and saw my dad looking back at me. Well, this finally happened. I was pretty stunned.
So I emailed 60 Minutes, and requested to know if they had any knowledge of who this particular soldier was. I got back some generic answer. Then I was told to get in touch with a different area of 60 Minutes. I emailed that area. I got another generic answer saying I needed to send “snail mail” and not to expect any answer or get anything back because they get hundreds of thousands of mail every day. So . . . not encouraging. Very disappointing. I’ve always loved 60 Minutes, and expected better from them. I just wanted some validation. I still haven’t heard anything, but I really don’t need them to tell me what I already know in my heart of hearts. It was him. But the look on his face? It scared me at first, because there were so much anguish in it. I mean he was in the middle of some major action. Made me cry. But then my family started piecing it together and decided it was probably taken when he was in Guam. He was in charge of artillery and he was loading “the big guns.” The artillery had gotten stuck, and for an hour he worked and worked to get it unstuck. He saved the lives of many men during this time. I believe this photograph was taken during that time when he thought he was about to die. That would explain his expression. But thankfully he did not die and neither did his men. He was awarded the Bronze Star.
So Father’s Day this year had a special meaning to me. It’s like I got a message from my father, as strange as that may sound. It warmed my heart in a way that I can’t really explain. His face in that picture really shook me, but then I realized the outcome. He survived. My dad was a career marine - 34 years of service. He loved this country. He was very patriotic. And he raised his children to be the same. To stand for the National Anthem, put my hand over my heart and sing it. To always have the American flag in the front of my house. To respect the flag. To pray for our servicemen fighting to keep America safe.
My dad survived Iwo (as he called it), Guam, and Bougainville. So when I get down or I’m working through something hard, I can hear him in my head saying, “Keep your chin up.” He obviously did that day, and because of it, his life continued and his legacy lives on in four children, 10 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren.
I am alive today because he kept his chin up, but more importantly - he kept the faith. God protected him.
Thank someone who has served our country and lived to be thanked. Do you stand for the National Anthem? Is your flag up? July 4th is coming. Show your respect for our country.
Pray for our troops. Pray for our nation.
Carole Bailey is a Northsider.