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franklin county times

History of a ring, love
of a father, grandfather

By Staff
Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 20, 2004
Someone asked me the other day why my wedding band was so scratched up and worn looking.
After all, I've been married less than three years. And I don't exactly do hard labor on a daily basis.
My friend asked me: So what's the deal with it?
I smiled as I explained my wedding band's lengthy history.
It was likely made in the early 1940s. In its early days, the ring spent quite a few harsh months on the finger of a U.S. Army soldier serving in World War II. The soldier worked on artillery and military vehicles as the U.S. fought the Germans.
He was wounded, but survived the war.
After his return, the ring spent the remainder of its life being scuffed during work at Mississippi Power Co. It survived that before being subjected to an active retirement that included summers at the lake and countless projects around the house.
The ring also survived nearly 60 years of marriage before the man who wore it, W.F. Carmichael, my grandfather, died in 1997. I was a senior in high school at the time and his youngest grandchild. I was devastated at the time because I thought my Pap was invincible.
Family ring
Four years later, as I stood at a church altar and repeated my wedding vows, my wife quietly slipped my Pap's ring on my finger. It was a complete surprise to me.
I remember being overwhelmed with emotion as she whispered to me that it was my Pap's ring. I was so happy that my wife understood the importance of my family, especially my grandfather.
I also sadly realized that my Pap never got to meet my wife, Sara, the newest member of the Carmichael family.
It's been nearly seven years since my grandfather passed away, but it's still hard to believe he's gone. It seems like only yesterday that he and my father were sitting on the front porch, talking for hours.
Politics, work, the economy, everything. I remember all the conversations.
Pap was an up-front, honest man. Some people would say he was gruff or stubborn, and he was those things at times. But he was also a lot of fun.
And you never had to guess where my grandfather stood. He was quick to tell you his opinion, even if you didn't want to hear it. And when Pap talked, people listened.
My dad's a lot like him. People respond to him.
Fatherly guidance
The thing I admired about my grandfather, and still admire about my dad, was his passion. They both fight the biggest obstacles for something they believe in. No matter if anyone else agrees with them or not. They're not the bandwagon type. They formulate their own values and opinions and stand behind them.
In a lot of ways, they helped mold me into the man I am today. I'm not always as outwardly fiery as them, but I'm just as passionate on the inside.
They taught me the importance of standing up for my beliefs, whether it be God, friends, family or work.
Today, as a 24-year-old newlywed, I realize that my dad is my best friend. Growing up, dad was strict. We had this commander-cadet relationship. I was always just amazed by him.
I honestly don't know what I would do without him. I call him almost on a daily basis, even when he's in session with the Mississippi Legislature in Jackson. I call him for advice, or sometimes just to hear his voice.
And even when he's busy, in a committee meeting, or about to face a vote, my dad stops whatever he's doing and listens. No matter how insignificant the subject of my call is.
Dad is often my staunchest critic and my biggest supporter all at the same time. In a lot of ways he's just like his father, my Pap, was to him.
This Father's Day, I can only hope that if and when I become a dad, I am able to emulate mine.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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