Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Post

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm going back to pick up on something that happened in Taiwan in 1958 to my Dad when I wasn't there. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

My Father did some good things. Very little of the good things he did involved me, but I can appreciate them anyway. I've already talked (Dictatorship & Thievery) about how he blew the whistle on graft relating to the construction of the swimming pool at an enlisted men's club in Taipei.

I mentioned that my Father dealt then with the stress in part by going to bars after work. One such trip resulted in both his best moment and worst setback.

It happened after my Mother and I had left Taiwan. One evening my Father went with a fellow officer to a Taipei bar that was regularly frequented by servicemen. When they walked in to the place, they found a drunken US soldier causing a scene. My Father confronted him, telling him he had to leave the bar. The soldier not only refused to leave but became violent, took a swing, and my Father had MPs haul him out of there and taken to the brig.

It would have been no big deal, but it turned out it was a congressman's son. Worse, it turned out it was a congressman who took money from the construction company that was mishandling the swimming pool work. My Dad had stepped on a land mine.

He could have gotten out of it by backing off from the graft charges, and dropped charges against the congressman's spoiled brat of a son. But he stood his ground on both counts. The result was a bad review that meant a missed promotion.

The lost promotion crushed him. He had adopted the army as if it were a mother surrogate. He felt betrayed, and it added heavily to all the other bitterness he had about his life. Suddenly his turning away from a career in printing and journalism looked like a disastrous mistake.

But through it all he continued to declare his loyalty to the army, and he stood his ground on the principles. That was great.

It was too bad he treated me so badly I couldn't tell him then how great I thought it was.

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