Last week, I wrote an opinion piece that was published on Foxnews.com about what Veterans Day means to me. And then something amazing happened.
Loyal Candy readers might recognize that the story was a reworked version of a blog post I wrote for Memorial Day about my father’s Navy service in Vietnam.
The piece was accompanied by a photo of the bracelet my father wore from 1967-1973 bearing the name of a POW shot down in Vietnam. He wore it until the man– Commander Robert Doremus– returned home. My father wrote a letter to Cdr. Doremus when he returned safely, telling him what wearing the bracelet meant to him and thanking him for his service and incredible sacrifice.
My father died in 1993 so I can’t ask him details about that time, or if he ever got a response from Cdr. Doremus.
I Googled Doremus, but there were several others who share his name, and I couldn’t determine where he lived or even if he was still alive. When I sent the piece to Fox News, I knew it would get thousands of views and secretly hoped his family would see it and be able to fill in some blanks.
That’s why I wasn’t completely surprised when I got a comment on my blog from Doremus’ daughter, Barbara, the day after the story appeared. A friend of hers had seen my story and posted the link on Facebook asking her if she was any relation to the name on the bracelet.
She made a comment on my blog (there was a link to my blog at the end of the Fox piece) and asked if we could get in touch. Within hours, we exchanged emails and became Facebook friends. It was surreal to look at her Facebook page and read the thread about finding the story and wanting to contact me.
We spoke on the phone a few days later and there was an immediate intimacy I wouldn’t normally feel with a stranger. But through social media, we had learned a little about each other’s lives, and we had this shared meaningful experience.
Turns out, Barbara’s dad is still alive and nearly 80 years old. She called to tell him about the story but he had not seen it and promised to look for it online.
His war story is even more fascinating than I knew. He was shot down and declared dead for more than a year. Then a photo of him surfaced and the military changed his status from KIA to POW. He was held in Vietnam for 8 years before returning home.
I would love to know if he remembered my father’s letter or the bracelet. Thanks to the internet, I may find out.
Many on Barbara’s Facebook page read the story and said they got goosebumps. “What a small world!” was a common refrain.
It’s actually a huge world, but the internet can make it shrink.
I often resent the intrusiveness of the web and criticize social media for the self-indulgence it encourages. But this story– and the speed with which we daughters connected– is a tale of technology-done-good.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. Coincidence that this all happened so close to the milestone? I’m not so sure.
Although she lives in Florida, Facebook will help me keep in touch with Barbara, and hopefully her father. Dad would have loved that.
Hi Brooke again, Would you please write to Barbara, and tell her I have sent her a message on facebook with a photo, but it apparently will go to her “Other Folder” not her inbox. According to facebook she can access this by: ” To get to your Other folder, click Messages on the left side of the homepage. At the top left of your main messages view, click Other.” I just thought it might be a spam type folder, and she might not check it. Thanks so much, Ellen
Great story! I have always held Veteran’s Day in high regard- not only because my Dad and oldest brother were veterans, but because we followed your Dad’s progress while he was a POW. My oldest brother was MIA for only a few months while serving in Vietnam. Our family waited for good news about your Dad all of those years. I remember that my mother cried when we learned that he was located and would be returning home! We lived a few houses away from your family on S. Janeway. Blessings to your Dad, and all of your family!
Brooke, Karen wants to be in contact with you, as well. She will get in touch with you soon. Like I stated earlier, the healing has already begun. It’s like a weight off of my shoulders, telling part of our story. War leaves very deep scares.
Love this!!! Xxoo
Thank you Brooke! The healing has already begun! You will be hearing from all the Doremus’ , Courter family (Eleanor Doremus Courter is his sister) and the Clupper family (Karen Doremus Clupper). New we can’t wait to meet you! Bless you.
Incredible. Your father is looking down and smiling upon you.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Hopefully we will all get to hear more of this hero’s amazing story.
Honestly, after this makes the rounds, you should expect to hear from a whole clan of Doremi (our plural of Doremus) and a bunch of thank yous for getting in touch with Barb.
She’s my 2nd cousin and I’ve shared this with two of Uncle Robbie’s brothers as well (my grandfather and Uncle George).
So, again, thank you for reaching out! This is an amazing story!
Barbara is my cousin, and Robert is my uncle. I am so glad you and Barbara are in touch! Maybe there can be healing for you both.
Wow. Absolutely amazing!!