The Wall of Faces

Advanced search +

REMEMBRANCES

  • The torn photo

    Posted on 10/7/12 - by Tara O'Grady TaraLOgrady@gmail.com

    I was only five years old when my father left to serve in Vietnam and barely six when his plane was shot down and he went missing. Yet, I remember my father with great clarity and vividness as the connection between us ran deep. My small world revolved around him, he was my Knight in Shinning Armour. I can clearly recall the thrill I experienced at the prospect of any precious moments I was able to spend with my dad. Even the trivial things were special when I shared them with him. A ride to kindergarten, a walk, a bedtime story or a sleigh ride with my father ignited the same spark and enthusiasm as a new bike or a trip to Disneyland. I recollect each day waiting impatiently for his arrival home from work. I could barely contain my excitement upon his arrival, rushing to the door to greet him, it was the highlight of my day and stirred tremendous joy within me every time. As his youngest daughter; I epitomized the term; “Daddy’s Little Girl”







    We shared a unique attachment; one that not time, distance or separation could quell. He nicknamed me “Love” as I always showered him with affection and our strong bond was timeless and endless. I can recall once when I was just barely 4 years of age, I had drifted into the mental state just between consciousness and sleep. My father had arrived home late that evening, my mother saw me lying there in the playroom and told my dad to carry me to my bed. As his strong arms lifted me up and he began to move me, I felt such peace, joy and tranquility, I can still hear my mothers whispers.” shh, quietly do not wake her” I continued to feign sleep because the comfort I felt in his arms was an amazing feeling of happiness and solace.


    My recollections are not just of memories but also of emotions evoked when I think of our time together. When I was close to my dad I was overcome with a sense of safety and security and most of all I felt utterly and completely loved and accepted by him. He made me feel important and unique.. My time with him helped me to gain self confidence, he believed in me and as a result I believed in myself.



    In later years I would derive strength from those early days with my dad. My father’s love and guidance would carry me through many future storms in my life. When I was faced with long days and endless nights of self doubt, failure and hopelessness, when tragedy stared me in the face and when I was ready to give up it was the recollection of my father that sustained me and gave me hope. I would encounter many dark moments throughout my life and it was those early years I shared with him that enabled me to move forward.. The following is just one small story of many that my dad influenced in my life; one poignant moment in time:



    For 35 years I possessed only one photo of my father. It was an old black and white picture of him wearing his flight suit, standing in front of his plane. It was one of my most treasured possessions, I always kept it in a frame hanging on my wall or sitting upon my mantle in every home I ever resided. Whenever I relocated, it never felt like home until his photo adorned the house.





    Many years later in my life I married a man, tall and smart like my father, and he instantly charmed me with his wiles. I rushed into that marriage to my detriment. After we married another side to this man appeared, one that could be cruel and insensitive. He ridiculed and belittled me and in time chipped apart my self worth. In time his abuse became more blatant and his anger would turn more violent. It was a slow progression that weakened my will eventually deteriorating all my strength making it difficult to break the cycle.


    Eventually, the progression of the domestic violence became a way of life. I made unsuccessful attempts to end the marriage and break from him completely. Using my children as my excuse, I repeatedly allowed him to slowly creep back into our lives. I had allowed myself to become a victim of emotional, verbal and physical abuse and I felt trapped. Until one poignant moment in time became my awakening, my clarity, my salvation and my new beginning.



    He was angry over something trivial again, and he grabbed the framed photo of my father, He knew it was my only photo of my father, he was keenly aware of my dad's story and he realized the significance of that picture. He grabbed it off the wall, took the photo from its frame, threw the glass frame to the floor, the shattering glass felt like chards of glass ripping through my heart. I stood there frozen, feeling helpless as he took the photo from its frame. He proceeded to rip the picture, as tears streamed down my face I grabbed the two remaining pieces of that photograph from his hands, determined to stop him from tearing it any further, I ran as fast as I could.




    Finally, I felt I was far enough away to be safe, and I sat down and cried, and stared at the photo of my dad. It seemed my father's eyes were staring back at me and I suddenly realized how far I had retreated from my father's love and how far I had strayed from his belief in me. In those early years he had taught me to be strong and self assured, he instilled in me the belief that I could achieve anything, I had gained inner strength and confidence from him, Yet, I married a man that had chipped it all away. This brief second of clarity made a lasting impression. I suddenly knew what I had to do. I would take back my life by making a clean break.



    Later I taped the two pieces of the photograph back together , hung it back upon my wall and then began the process of repairing the broken fragments of my life and healing my heart and soul~



    I left my marriage behind in the ruins where it belonged, I took the necessary steps to protect myself and my children and never once looked back. That night I felt my fathers prescense , I knew he was near. He was telling me that I was deserving and worthy of love and happiness. In stark contrast to the man that belittled, ridiculed and humiliated me and made me feel worthless and unloved. I faced the following days with a new found courage and determination.




    The photo still hangs on my wall and the torn piece, taped together is a constant reminder not to let self doubt overcome me, and to never loose sight of what is truly important in life.



    Ironically, this photo was posted on some of my personal websites, but ended up copied by others and ended up on other sites, and even in newspaper articles: Yet, I was the only one who was aware of the tear in the left upper corner and the meaning behind it, I'm sure others never even noticed!


    I was only five years old when my father left to serve in Vietnam and barely six when his plane was shot down and he went missing. Yet, I remember my father with great clarity and vividness as the connection between us ran deep. My small world revolved around him, he was my Knight in Shinning Armour. I can clearly recall the thrill I experienced at the prospect of any precious moments I was able to spend with my dad. Even the trivial things were special when I shared them with him. A ride to kindergarten, a walk, a bedtime story or a sleigh ride with my father ignited the same spark and enthusiasm as a new bike or a trip to Disneyland. I recollect each day waiting impatiently for his arrival home from work. I could barely contain my excitement upon his arrival, rushing to the door to greet him, it was the highlight of my day and stirred tremendous joy within me every time. As his youngest daughter; I epitomized the term; “Daddy’s Little Girl”







    We shared a unique attachment; one that not time, distance or separation could quell. He nicknamed me “Love” as I always showered him with affection and our strong bond was timeless and endless. I can recall once when I was just barely 4 years of age, I had drifted into the mental state just between consciousness and sleep. My father had arrived home late that evening, my mother saw me lying there in the playroom and told my dad to carry me to my bed. As his strong arms lifted me up and he began to move me, I felt such peace, joy and tranquility, I can still hear my mothers whispers.” shh, quietly do not wake her” I continued to feign sleep because the comfort I felt in his arms was an amazing feeling of happiness and solace.


    My recollections are not just of memories but also of emotions evoked when I think of our time together. When I was close to my dad I was overcome with a sense of safety and security and most of all I felt utterly and completely loved and accepted by him. He made me feel important and unique.. My time with him helped me to gain self confidence, he believed in me and as a result I believed in myself.



    In later years I would derive strength from those early days with my dad. My father’s love and guidance would carry me through many future storms in my life. When I was faced with long days and endless nights of self doubt, failure and hopelessness, when tragedy stared me in the face and when I was ready to give up it was the recollection of my father that sustained me and gave me hope. I would encounter many dark moments throughout my life and it was those early years I shared with him that enabled me to move forward.. The following is just one small story of many that my dad influenced in my life; one poignant moment in time:



    For 35 years I possessed only one photo of my father. It was an old black and white picture of him wearing his flight suit, standing in front of his plane. It was one of my most treasured possessions, I always kept it in a frame hanging on my wall or sitting upon my mantle in every home I ever resided. Whenever I relocated, it never felt like home until his photo adorned the house.





    Many years later in my life I married a man, tall and smart like my father, and he instantly charmed me with his wiles. I rushed into that marriage to my detriment. After we married another side to this man appeared, one that could be cruel and insensitive. He ridiculed and belittled me and in time chipped apart my self worth. In time his abuse became more blatant and his anger would turn more violent. It was a slow progression that weakened my will eventually deteriorating all my strength making it difficult to break the cycle.


    Eventually, the progression of the domestic violence became a way of life. I made unsuccessful attempts to end the marriage and break from him completely. Using my children as my excuse, I repeatedly allowed him to slowly creep back into our lives. I had allowed myself to become a victim of emotional, verbal and physical abuse and I felt trapped. Until one poignant moment in time became my awakening, my clarity, my salvation and my new beginning.



    He was angry over something trivial again, and he grabbed the framed photo of my father, He knew it was my only photo of my father, he was keenly aware of my dad's story and he realized the significance of that picture. He grabbed it off the wall, took the photo from its frame, threw the glass frame to the floor, the shattering glass felt like chards of glass ripping through my heart. I stood there frozen, feeling helpless as he took the photo from its frame. He proceeded to rip the picture, as tears streamed down my face I grabbed the two remaining pieces of that photograph from his hands, determined to stop him from tearing it any further, I ran as fast as I could.




    Finally, I felt I was far enough away to be safe, and I sat down and cried, and stared at the photo of my dad. It seemed my father's eyes were staring back at me and I suddenly realized how far I had retreated from my father's love and how far I had strayed from his belief in me. In those early years he had taught me to be strong and self assured, he instilled in me the belief that I could achieve anything, I had gained inner strength and confidence from him, Yet, I married a man that had chipped it all away. This brief second of clarity made a lasting impression. I suddenly knew what I had to do. I would take back my life by making a clean break.



    Later I taped the two pieces of the photograph back together , hung it back upon my wall and then began the process of repairing the broken fragments of my life and healing my heart and soul~



    I left my marriage behind in the ruins where it belonged, I took the necessary steps to protect myself and my children and never once looked back. That night I felt my fathers prescense , I knew he was near. He was telling me that I was deserving and worthy of love and happiness. In stark contrast to the man that belittled, ridiculed and humiliated me and made me feel worthless and unloved. I faced the following days with a new found courage and determination.




    The photo still hangs on my wall and the torn piece, taped together is a constant reminder not to let self doubt overcome me, and to never loose sight of what is truly important in life.



    Ironically, this photo was posted on some of my personal websites, but ended up copied by others and ended up on other sites, and even in newspaper articles: Yet, I was the only one who was aware of the tear in the left upper corner and the meaning behind it, I'm sure others never even noticed!


    MORE
  • Remembrance

    Posted on 9/25/12 - by Tara O' Grady@yahoo.com taraogrady@yahoo.com

    On April 10, 1967 Col. O'Grady scribbled a letter to his 6 year old daughter, Tara. In his hurry to conclude, he had a mission to complete, he wrote, 'Daddy is flying a lot and the more he flies the sooner he will be home for good and that's what he wants more than anything else in the world, so he can give out great big hugs and kisses to everyone, but especially to little girls in the first grade.'



    O'Grady managed to place the letter into the out box just prior to flying his 31st mission over North Vietnam, as he placed the letter in the box he did not realize those would be the last words he would ever write!



    Even before the letter arrived to its destination in Las Vegas, Nevada, the O'Grady's family home, even before Tara was able to read the loving words her dad had written, two uniformed men knocked at the door. Those officers came to inform Tara and her entire family that John O'Grady's plane had been shot down and he was missing.



    It would be years before Tara realized the full impact and extent of the devastating consequences resulting from this tragedy.



    I am Tara O'Grady, a proud soldier's daughter, and I recall the deep bond and closeness I shared with my father.



    For 20 years I re- read that letter hundreds of times, memorizing each and every word until it was lost forever in storage fire. I lost many things in the blaze that day, but none of the items scorched that terrible day, affected me nearly as much as my Father's Letter.



    I kept vigil for my dad, remaining filled with hope and attempting to keep the faith and believe that his last words; wishing to give out great big hugs, would someday come true.



    I would never give up on my daddy, I longed for, prayed for and dreamed of him everyday. I attempted through the years to obtain information about my dad. I was told his plane was shot down, but not anything else, not what had happened to him. Obstacles that included family, lies, government and personal tragedies kept me from learning any further information about my dad for 20 plus years.. The Air Force ceased providing me with any information or documents at all, after a fraudulent call by a family member claiming to be me and stating 'I do not want to received any further updates about my dad.' How could someone be that cruel,leaving me in the dark and filled with uncertainty? I remained in total abyss for many years.I wondered if my dad could be alive, alone, scared or suffering.




    Through hope, prayers, sheer determination and the generosity of some caring strangers, I slowly obtained bits of information about my dad. For over 25 years I asked, Did He Suffer? Is He Alive? Is He Dead? Is he buried somewhere? I did not get many answers and those answers just led to more questions. I was never able to say goodbye but I was determined to someday pay homage to my dad.





    I was a soldier's daughter and I was not going to let my father die and anonymous death, an unsung hero, a forgotten casualty, a lost man, and an unknown soldier...I needed to know if he was dead or alive. I needed to honor his memory and tell his story. Eventually, I learned he died a prisoner of war...died in captivity. I still seek closure; How can a man be gone forever and never buried? Now I tell his story through websites and other avenues until the final chapter occurs. I so desperately want to kneel at his grave site, say a prayer, place a rose and leave my father to lie in peace on the soil of his homeland. His remains must be returned home to his family where he belongs



    I never gave up then~


    I will never give up now~

    MORE
  • Posted on 7/3/09 - by Tara O'Grady Taraspeaksup@yahoo.com
    I never had the chance to say goodbye, you were just gone. I dream and hope that someday I will be able to visit the wall with my three children. Though I was very young, I remember you vividly and we shared a special bond. I miss and love you very much and often wonder what path my life would have taken had you come home. But you didn't come home and your baby girl (THE ONE YOU CALLED LOVE) had to grow up all alone; yearning for you. You were the greatest Dad and you were and are my HERO!
    I LOVE YOU DADDY
    MORE
  • TO: Daddy: A song dedicated to you and LeaAnna:

    Posted on 7/3/09 - by Tara O'Grady taraspeaksup@yahoo.com
    Daddy,

    My baby girl, (your grandbaby girl LeaAnna Marie) joined you in heaven and I miss you both very much!!!Please take care of her for me. Tell Mema and Deda how much I miss them too and for them to kiss their great granddaughter for me.
    MORE
  • Goodbye Daddy

    Posted on 7/3/09 - by Tara O'Grady Taraspeaksup@yahoo.com
    I never had the chance to say goodbye, you were just gone. I dream and hope that someday I will be able to visit the wall with my three children. Though I was very young, I remember you vividly and we shared a special bond. I miss and love you very much and often wonder what path my life would have taken had you come home. But you did'nt come home and your baby girl (THE ONE YOU CALLED LOVE) had to grow up all alone; yearning for you. You were the greatest Dad and you were and are my HERO!
    I LOVE YOU DADDY
    MORE

The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.