Our current culture is very disrespectful, we have every end of the spectrum from litter bugs to people peeing on Veterans graves. So, you can imagine everyone’s shock when they see a young boy who had been taught morals that have been extinct for some time.
Jerry O’Keefe was a hero dressed in a fighter pilot’s uniform. O’Keefe enlisted a few weeks after Pearl Harbor and was one of the youngest flying aces in WWII. His heroism didn’t end there, later in life he was in office for two terms as a conservative Democrat, and in 1973 he was elected mayor.
When the war was over, Jerry went back to Mississippi, where he raised his family of fifteen. His family watched their father’s love for this country in action.
To Joe, Jerry had “hero status”:
“He was a towering figure in terms of his courage, willingness to answer the call of duty, the length and quality of his public service, and the example that he set and the values that he gave to us.”
When he passed away, Joe and his twelve siblings began reflecting on how to honor such an extraordinary man:
“We did our best as a family in terms of the formality and the majesty of the service. There was a flyover of planes, we had his casket on a horse-drawn carriage, we celebrated at a high mass in the cathedral, we did everything we could.”
As they made their way in the funeral procession from the church to the cemetery, the O’Keefes were moved by various organizations who came out to show their support for Jerry.
Then they saw Kaiden Wade.
“We came around the corner and saw Kaiden standing there all by himself. No adults around. No friends around. In the rain with his hand over his heart. Stock-still as a measure of honor and respect for our father.”
“Kaiden standing in the rain reminded us of how often dad had taken his very unpopular stances and stood alone in the rain, so to speak, for something he believed in.”
It was then that they realized just how many lives their father had touched. There Kaiden was, standing outside in the rain just to pay his respect. This simple act gave Jerry’s children exactly what they needed to say good-bye to their father. They knew his legacy of loyalty and respect would live on, and that helped them heal after the loss of such a great man.
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