THE WORTH OF A ONE DOLLAR BILL
The mood was tense at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona that July day in 1967. My Father was struggling with his PTS…holding back a flood of emotion with more that enough bourbon. I was on my way to war…Dad was reliving his…the last time he saw his Father alive was as he departed on the train from Prescott heading east and eventually North Africa and beyond.
Grandfather was a French Canadian who had come to Arizona in the early 1890’s…a mining engineer seeking a new life and building a family. His custom was to embrace his children and give them a kiss on the cheek…old school, traditional European family.
At my Father’s departure, Grandfather reached out and shook hands and said his goodbye.
As I stood at the gate awaiting the call for boarding, my Father squared his shoulders and reached out with his hand. This was tough…the wave of the unknown broke above us…we locked eyes and then I felt it. A dollar bill, folded to a small square, met my palm. Instantly I knew and said…”It might not come back.” Father’s reply through a calm and steady smile was…”It will be where it is supposed to be”. And, so off it went with me to my war in Viet Nam.
This dollar bill is a gold seal silver certificate that was used as invasion money at North Africa. It had traveled for 22 months of WW II through North Africa, Sicily and Italy up to the battle of Casino…where Dad was severely wounded and evacuated out to England and back home. This dollar bill carried the names of the men that fought along side my Father…good Hun hunters he said…all gone.
At home as I was growing up, the dollar bill was tucked away and brought out on Memorial Day…30 May; of every year…when it sat on the floor with Dad and a bottle of very good bourbon and time slipped back to the smoke and din of battle with comrades of Anzac’s, Brits, Canucks and Nisei of the 442.
I would carry the dollar bill for 18 months of war in Viet Nam…where added to it the names of gun truckers and combat engineers who did their duty for God, Country and a free people of South Viet Nam.
Upon my return home, Dad and I took a quiet trip across the State. Our first night was at the White House in Mayer. My Father was born in Mayer, the last of his parent’s children…his Mother being 42 and Father 47…on 21 September 1921. My Grandfather had his own business, Giroux Consolidated Mines, most of which were in the Bradshaw mountain range…and one tungsten mine at Gleeson, east of Tombstone.
The stay over at the White House was where we would meet-up with Cousin Bill Heaton. Bill was the owner having taken over from his Mother. She was Swiss and she and her people had come over to escape tyranny in Europe. Bill and Dad were close…born in 1919; Bill was more of a big brother and one hell of a man. Cowboy, master mechanic, war fighter, soldier of fortune, weapons inventor, Arizona lawman…Superman in my book!
So, here we sat in the parlor of the historic White House Hotel in Mayer, Arizona…three seasoned veterans and a bottle of very good bourbon…I leaned over and reached my right hand out to Dad…and passed back the dollar bill. He never looked down…just smiled, and nodded his head and pocketed the dollar bill for safe keeping.
Before he left this world in October of 1981 at not quite a month into 60, he called and asked me to swing by on my next trip home from Louisiana where I was based and worked in the petrochemical industry. My Father had typed a brief story and framed it and the bill. He said it was time for me to take it back and continue its journey.
It sits now where I see it…each day…and I smile and thank my God for the good men who sacrificed for me and others so that we would have a chance at freedom. Such that others would come to strive for, appreciate and defend individual liberty and justice. I think of those that Dad spoke of every Memorial Day…I think of and yes, see those that fought along side of me…as I am sure Dad saw his buddies of long ago.
So, here it sits, ONE DOLLAR IN SILVER PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND…a certificate that there is on deposit in the Treasury of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…paid for by the blood, pain and long suffering of those who choose to live and die as Americans. I smile and know that I am in very good company.
Frank W. Giroux
10 January 2013
Editor’s Note: Frank is a lifetime member in Oath Keepers and is a Viet Nam Veteran with a Purple Heart.
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