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Rhoades Less Traveled:

The feeling is mutual

May 28, 2009|By Brady Rhoades

When you receive a call in the early morning from your 85-year-old mother, there might be cause for concern.

When her voice is trembling and she’s on the verge of tears, you prepare for the worst.

Unless it happens to be Memorial Day and your name is Steve Foley.

Oh, and your mother is reading about her late husband in the Daily Pilot.

Foley — I’m taking a leap of faith here because he did not leave an address or phone number — faxed a letter that landed on my desk, and caught my attention, Thursday morning.

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This is a thank you note to let you know how deeply the work you do affects people — your readers.

Let me tell you something: We seldom get thank-you notes.

So I read on.

It opened with the mother calling to say that the Daily Pilot had used a photo of Steve Foley’s daughter, Storm, laying flowers at the grave of her grandfather — Steve’s father — to commemorate Memorial Day at Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach.

In the photo, shot by photographer Don Leach, Storm Foley is laying a yellow rose on the grave of her grandfather, who served in the Marines during World War II.

(Steve did not mention either of his parents, or his father-in-law, who comes into play later on in this story, by name.)

My mother was so moved by the memories of the sacrifices her generation made on our behalf, and the emotions came through in her voice ...

This due to the simple picture of my father’s granddaughter paying her respects.

Storm Foley’s other grandfather gave the supreme measure of devotion to his country in Vietnam, the letter read.

Consequently, Memorial Day for the Foleys isn’t about TV or barbecues or skipping work; it’s a solemn reminder of the costs of war and the value of freedom.

My children have been raised with the knowledge that freedom comes with a price, it comes with sacrifice, and requires a profound gratitude on the part of each of us toward those who have served our country. Memorial Day reminds us that we belong to something greater than ourselves, and that is, simply, these United States.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Steve, and, though I get the feeling I should be thanking you, you’re quite welcome.


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