June 16, 2012 - At the New York State Fair in Syracuse there is a
Veterans War Memorial Walk. My father has a brick in that walk. I
couldn't wait to find the memorial and search for my father's name
among the many sailors in the U.S. Navy section. After what seemed
like an eternity, I saw ‘W. Conte' barely peeking out from under a
man's shoe. Standing on top of the ‘Frank' was a very large man.
Patiently, I waited for him to move. He just stood there with his
back to me not knowing he was standing on my father's brick. I don't
know why, but tears began to well up in my eyes right there on a
Sunday afternoon in the midst of thousands of strangers at the NYS
Frank W. Conte with his daughter
I tapped the man's shoulder and in a frail voice I said,
“Excuse me sir, you're standing on my father.” Immediately
he moved away and I dropped down to touch the brick. I
gently moved my fingers over his name: Frank W. Conte United
States Navy WW II Electrician. That was all I needed. I
walked across the busy sidewalk to an area under three
flagpoles. Alone on a bench under a beautiful tree I watched
the flags wave proudly in the wind as if to salute the
soldiers and I thought about my father.
There was a
veterans band playing loud happy music and someone was
singing. People were everywhere, but somehow I felt like it
was just me and my daddy on that bench. I looked across the
way to where the memorial was. Knowing how proud he was to
serve his country, it was such a comfort to know my father's
name would be there forever. Thousands of people will come
here every year and walk past his name.
thought how could it be that he has been gone for over five
years and I feel like he is still with me? So often I think
of him. When I am working, I remembering all that he taught
me about business and success. When I am with my children,
I'm thinking how wonderful a parent he was and how easily he
taught me to love. I think of how comfortable he was in the
kitchen and I can hear him telling me, “The secret to good
clam sauce is the anchovies!”
What will my children
think of when they think of me? What kind of example am I?
What have I taught them?
We have each been given a certain amount of time. We can do with
it whatever we want. But when we are gone, whatever we have done
with that time will live on in the minds of the people whose lives
we have touched.
My father taught me many life lessons but the one that has made
the most difference in my life is what he taught me after he passed
I want to leave my children with good memories. I want to give
them something to be proud of. Long after I am gone I want them to
be able to sit on a park bench and realize that life counts for
something, that what we do with the time we are given matters. I
want my children to know that the most important part of a person's
life is how they touched the lives of others.
By Yvonne Conte
Department of Veterans Affairs - Vantage Point
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