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June 18, 2006

P*p’s Day!

by @ 10:00 am. Filed under Family, Troop Support
Not really Pop, but close.

Most of my life has been spent blissfully color blind when it comes to race. My parents would not allow us (me and my siblings) to use derogatory language aimed at a person’s ethnicity. They said it was “wrong” or “bad” and that-was-that. We had to think up other arguments if we wanted to persist in belittling someone. Most of the time it wasn’t worth the effort since we were just being stupid little freaks.

Pop recently recounted his first exposure to racism in a story about his early days in the military. He was too young to enlist for WWII, but the Navy had a program for teens to join the Reserves, which he did. When Korea prompted Uncle Sam to come knocking with draft papers, his status with the Navy was overridden and Pop found himself in the Army instead.

Training took him to the deep South, which might as well have been Mars to a kid from the Pacific NW. On their first break, Pop and some buddies decided to head in to town and watch a movie. They boarded a local bus and sat there waiting for the driver to take off to the next stop. After a while, the driver finally yelled back “You have to move up front. You’re in the n– section!”. The young men were confused, but reluctantly moved and the bus started rolling.

When they got to the theater Pop noticed a rickety staircase outside leading up to a second floor entrance. Figuring it was the way to the balcony section, the group started up the stairs but were turned away at the door. Again, it was for blacks-only. His education in race relations had only started.
Mom and Pop weren’t into the whole “protest march” thing and didn’t go around proselytizing the neighborhood. They did something else: taught by example.

I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old when Pop scared the crap out of me and ruined a trip to the carnival. At least that was the sharpest part of the memory I had until I grew out of stupid little freak mode. Pop became incensed at a carny worker who refused to allow a black child on a ride and had called the boy one of the VERY BAD derogatory terms we were not allowed to use. Pop decked the maggot, said some non-racial “very bad words”, and we swiftly left the carnival. Me in tears, of course. Fathers don’t make scenes like that?!?

Several years later he came to the dinner table in disgust and told us that he had resigned as the President of the neighborhood swim club. He’d told the other board members to go F*** themselves because they were not going to allow a black family entry into the member’s only association. This kind of bigotry got Pop’s blood boiling, but he was always able to calmly describe to us kids why he got mad.

I know that Pop and millions of others like him changed this country for the better by simply refusing to go with the flow. His actions spoke louder than any protest sign and I will always be thankful for that.

Happy Fathers Day, Pop!

Shout out to Top Pop Mike Sparling! Joshua is back at Walter Reed and his incredible Dad has again taken on the task of being everyone’s father. His boundless love for all the wounded warriors and their loved ones is truly inspiring. Mike makes sure they all have a shoulder to lean on and someone to turn to when the going gets a little too tough. “Support” takes on a whole new meaning when Mike sees someone in need or when he organizes social events to get people out of their rooms and into the extended family. He’s touched the lives of more people than he realizes.Happy Fathers Day, Mike!

6 Responses to “P*p’s Day!”

  1. jim b Says:

    Happy Father’s Day to all the other dads out there. The kids make is all worthwhile.

  2. Mrs. Diva Says:

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially those who have loaned us their children. Thanks simply aren’t enough. Mike Sparling, you are an amazing example for all to follow!

  3. Sssteve Says:

    That is awesome GN! Your dad is great!

  4. Tabitha Says:

    Great post!

  5. bill Says:

    I remeber, that was in Vienna at that crappy little carnival in the park, Dad had every right to deck that twerp.

  6. Alexia Gillespie Says:

    Neat share, BTW your site was shared by Christian Dillstrom, you are doing a wonderful job as mobile and social media marketing top dog is pointing towards you!

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