Old WWII photograph teaches lesson


So a while back I wrote a column concerning my father. It was about a photograph that was on 60 MINUTES, the day before Memorial Day. They had featured an old Andy Rooney segment from 2005 about Memorial Day. The photograph was of a soldier during WWII. My family believes it was my Dad. After some exhaustive attempts to get some confirmation from 60 MINUTES, we realized we didn't really need it. So I let it go.

Then, a few days after my column came out, something very unexpected happened. I received an email from 60 MINUTES. Not just some generic form letter, but a personal email from a producer from 60 MINUTES. She had not only read my column, which is shocking by itself, but had passed it on to Andy Rooney's producer, who is now retired. She was trying to find out whatever she could about ID'ing the soldier in the photo. Unfortunately, neither she nor the retired producer could ID the picture. But just the fact that she got in touch with me, trying to help, meant so much. So my complaining wasn’t wasted. But my story doesn't end here.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the WWII Museum in New Orleans, for the first time. I guess I put it off for fear of seeing a photo of my Dad looking back at me. My siblings and I have a couple of photo albums from his active service during WWII. We’ve considered donating them to the museum, and still may.

Now, I like history but my hubby is the scholar about the Civil War and WWII. After three and a half hours, I had to drag him out of the museum. It made me sad. All the pictures and raw footage made the war very real. I got to see the War in a way I had never seen before. It was hard for me emotionally which I hadn’t expected. Just thinking of my Dad at Iwo Jima or Guam going through so many brutal experiences he would never discuss, really impacted me like no other time in my life. But the one thing missing . . . was the photograph. I looked but never saw it. 60 MINUTES helped me close that chapter, or so I thought.

I recently received an early Christmas present in the mail from my brother, Richard, a former Northsider who lives out of state. It was a DVD set on WWII. I gasped when I saw the picture on the cover. The photograph, the one no one could ID, not even 60 MINUTES? There it was on the cover of the DVDs.

So you see, all of this that happened?  I had no control over. But I finally got my closure. No, I didn't get the confirmation of who the soldier was. But I don’t need it anymore. 60 MINUTES stepped up and went the extra mile to help someone who could do nothing for them in return. They just did the right thing. You know, you learn a great deal about a person who does something extra special for a complete stranger who cannot return the favor. Shows true character; a special kind of integrity.

Funny thing is, that was what my father always taught me. Just do the right thing.

And he’s still teaching me today.

Carole Bailey is a Northsider.


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