Thursday, March 05, 2009

Veteran Reunited With Dog Tag

Photo byBill Ingram

Sometimes you hear a story that warms the cockles of your heart. This was one of them.

I was driving home from the Family History Library yesterday, listening to NPR on the car radio as always. All Things Considered was on and the following lovely story was told about a connection between a young woman in New York City and an elderly gentleman in Palm Springs, Florida.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to blog about it and I hope it makes somebody's day. It had me smiling all the way home.

"A week ago, 19-year-old Sydney Rector of the Bronx went to a music store in Midtown Manhattan with her boyfriend, Stevin Tyska.

When they left, they were playing around in a tunnel between 48th and 47th streets — and that's where they stumbled across a 66-year-old dog tag.

"It's a plastic tunnel and above you there's a waterfall," Rector tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "So you see the water falling on you; it's pretty cool. We were walking through, dancing around, being stupid, and my boyfriend saw something sticking out. And we always just mess with stuff, you know. We saw it, picked up and read it. I put it in my purse, and that's how it happened."

On the dog tag was the name Joseph Farish Jr., a serial number and the address 283 Cordova Road in West Palm Beach, Florida.

That night at 9 p.m., Rector looked up Farish and found a phone number for his law firm in Florida. She left a message for him, and the next day the 87-year-old World War II veteran called her back.

"I questioned her what was on the dog tag and I knew it was mine," Farish says. "I didn't realize I had lost it."

Farish says he was stationed at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey in March 1943. He says at that time he went into New York City twice — for a Broadway show starring Milton Berle and a USO going-away party. Farish was getting ready to ship to North Africa because he "got tired of lying around in the States" and "wanted to fight."

The dog tag "meant a lot to me," Farish says. "It brought back a lot of memories 'cause I went to North Africa and into Sicily. I was with the Big Red One [Infantry Division]. We made the landing on D-Day on Omaha Beach in Normandy and went all through Europe and ended up the war in Czechoslovakia where we met up with the Russians."

Rector returned the tag to Farish. But she says she believes she wasn't the first one to pick it up over the years.

"We figured that somebody saw it, picked up, dropped it. Somebody else saw it, picked up, dropped it," she says.

Her boyfriend Tyska agrees: "It probably has a long story."

Farish says he's thankful Rector returned the tag.

"I have to admire Sydney," Farish says. "She's a very kind and patriotic person to recognize that. To get it back to me is very dear to my heart. Thank you, Sydney."

"Thank you, that's sweet, no problem," Rector says. "Me and my boyfriend were talking about it and it's like it cost us a phone call and a stamp, you know? It didn't take much physical energy or exertion at all."

Joseph Farish, Jr. (photo by Bill Ingram)

Farish, who still runs a law firm in Florida, says it meant a lot to him to get his dog tag back from Sydney Rector. "

The fact that Mr. Farish is still alive and working is amazing. But even more amazing to me is the fact that two crazy teenagers would take the time to find him and return the dog tags.

Such a small thing to make an old man smile. Such a simple story of giving which sends good karma to the whole world.


john said...
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kenju said...

That warmed the cockles of my heart too. How nice of them to go to the trouble of locating him.

PI said...

Good to hear there are still Good Samaritans around.

Keri(th) said...

I love All Things Considered! I must have missed this one, what a great story!

Lewis said...

Sydney is my daughter.
She just moved to New York the first of the year. She wanted to go there and 'experience' New York. Needless to say I have been worried to death about her every night. Then this story broke.
Sydney is around the same age as Mr. Farish was the day he landed on Omaha Beach. It warmed my heart listening to these two fine adults exchanging these kind words to one another. They are both fine people.
I haven't gone to bed worrying about my little girl the past week, but she is defiantly on my mind.

Sheri said...

Thank you so much for finding my blog and commenting! You raised a wonderful daughter. Anyone who would do this for an old man will turn out just fine. You can be very proud!

Lewis said...

Sure Sheri
I love talking about my daughter.
Opposite of what we would like to believe, there are too many factors that influence a life that, as a parent, it's impossible to take credit or responsibility for their development.

So with that disposition, there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing your children reaping benefits of their good character.

I also think Sydney's kindness and character have been greatly reinforced by the kind words and encouraging thoughts of others like yourself, over the past week. Thank you.

Better than feeling proud, I feel at ease.
One down, two to go!