Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A Sad Story That Makes Me Proud - Conclusion
I think it's appropriate that the conclusion to this story comes around Christmastime. This is a period of hope and well wishes for billions of people around the world. In my small world this ending gives me that warm contented feeling that only occurs a few times in one's life. To read the initial story click here.
You will note a comment to this original story from my classmate "Mike". Mike is the one who alerted us to the sale of a Class of 1969 Citadel ring on eBay. He physically bought the ring from the seller. The rest of us contributed money and comments but he was the "brains" of the operation.
After we secured the ring and found out that it belonged to "Joe", we searched for any living relatives and discovered that "Joes" parents were still alive and living in South Carolina. It was a no brainer that the ring should be returned to them.
I won't try to describe the rest because "Mike's" posts on our Yahoo Groups site does better than I could ever do. The following has been edited from several of "Mike's" emails to make it suitable for this blog.
I spoke with "Joe's" Mom this afternoon, she couldn't talk about the ring so she put "Joe's" father on the line. It was really a tough conversation because you could feel his pain that is still there after almost 40 years. When I told him I had "Joe's" ring and that I would drive down and give it to him tomorrow , he said he didn't think he could handle it, but then composed himself. I guess that's the military still in him. I spoke with "Joe's" sister later and asked her if she thought it would be okay for me to come down and she said yes, and that she would be there as well
Joe died on Jun 15, 1970. One year later his father, also an army officer and airborne veteran of WW II (wounded at Anzio in 1944), Korea and Vietnam, suffered a heart attack after going through an old trunk with pictures and keepsakes of "Joe" and his sister when they were kids. He survived three wars but after the heart attack he was discharged from the service.
"Joe's" ring was stolen in 1992. The thief entered their home and hauled off a large safe that included "Joe's" sword, ring and other Citadel belongings.
Before visiting the parents I went over to the Lawtonville Cemetery where "Joe'" is buried. I placed the ring on his grave marker, somewhat symbolic of what his fiancee did with the wedding ring at "Joe's" funeral. Lawtonville Cemetery is a historic landmark. Many Civil War soldiers are buried there including some from The Citadel. This is the deep south that some folks only read about.
"Joe's" Dad tried to pay me for the ring several times. I told him it was our gift to his family and if he paid for the ring it would diminish our joy in returning it to them.
To my brothers of The Citadel Class of 1969.....
WE wear The Ring!
Thanks for visiting.