A touching Father’s Day on Facebook

A born-in-Germany pilot friend posted the following on her Facebook page:

In honor of my Dad’s birthday and Father’s Day …. to the man who taught me so much. He may not be here anymore but he’ll be forever in my heart  I miss him every day !!!!

This sentiment yielded 20 “Likes” and three comments of the form “Awesome Photos, I know your Dad is proud that his daughter followed in his footsteps.”

What were the “awesome photos” that were so widely liked? Photo 1: Dad pictured in his military officer’s uniform; Photo 2: Dad at the controls of what would today be an antique airplane.

What kind of footsteps might the daughter be following in? A mutual friend, who happens to be Ukrainian, private-messaged me:

  • wait a second
  • is this a luftwaffe uniform????

Zooming in a bit it turned out that Dad, who was born in 1915 (I asked via PM), had a swastika under the eagle over his right jacket pocket.

Happy Father’s Day to all of my readers!


  1. Ivan

    June 18, 2017 @ 5:39 pm


    Perhaps, his daughter became a communist pilot in the DDR, hence, following in the dad’ footsteps.

  2. SK

    June 18, 2017 @ 8:29 pm


    Pics or didn’t happen.

  3. jack crossfire

    June 18, 2017 @ 11:37 pm


    Times being what they are, shouldn’t there be an un-father’s day celebrating all the men whose generations told them to get lost for 40 years & then hit menopause?

  4. philg

    June 19, 2017 @ 12:19 am


    Father’s Day is over (at least on the East Coast) and the status with the guy in a Nazi officer’s uniform is now up to 25 “likes” and 2 “loves” (no rainbows).

    Let’s look at a few more postings on this topic from my Facebook feed…

    From a retired engineer:

    Well, I can’t say much about my dad beyond that he was very old for a dad, supported education very strongly, and got every one of his kids (I had 5 half-siblings, all gone of old age now) interested in something that was a good career. Thanks, dad. You were gone too soon.

    From a guy in his 20s (I’m friends with the pilot father)

    Happy Father’s Day to the man who taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car, fly a plane, captain a boat, run a tractor, climb a mountain and dive under the ocean.

    A heartfelt one:

    My biological father who I only met 4 times since he left when I was 3, died a few weeks ago. Father’s Day was always a horrible day for me. Either wishing I had one, or living in fear of the new one.

    [Note that, for a person this age, the statistically most common reason for “father left” was “mother sued father for divorce and, under no-fault system, was guaranteed to win the divorce while, under a gender-neutral custody system, was 95-percent likely to win custody.”]

  5. bobbybobbob

    June 19, 2017 @ 2:48 am


    > for a person this age, the statistically most common reason for “father left” was “mother sued father for divorce and, under no-fault system, was guaranteed to win the divorce while, under a gender-neutral custody system, was 95-percent likely to win custody.

    What a cultural train wreck that can not in any sane way be addressed by myopically focusing on the legal system. This is about men and women who don’t know how to be men and women.

  6. GW

    June 19, 2017 @ 10:14 am


    My father wasn’t an easy man but he was a great father – I thank my mother though, because during the hard times it would have been easy for her to skip out and take him for everything while depriving the 4 of us of having a dad at all.

    Most of my friends were not so lucky. Needless to say they didn’t turn out so good. My dad is in his final days now, and this is probably the last Father’s Day I’ll have with him, but he was lucky to have my mom’s support and our undying respect for all he did to keep food on the table, to keep the family stable.

  7. philg

    June 19, 2017 @ 10:59 am


    Bobby: I would agree with you that our legal system is a reflection of our cultural and societal values (see http://www.realworlddivorce.com/History for how these have evolved). I was just pointing out that “father left” is a peculiar shorthand for the operation of that legal system (as recently noted in http://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2017/06/17/the-spectacular-stupidity-of-david-brooks/ ).

  8. GermanL

    June 19, 2017 @ 7:05 pm


    Not everyone is I guess is shy about such things, to my surprise as well.

    In Vienna, a college buddy came into town once and invited us to join him on his visit to another female friend who we didn’t know. She was engaged and living with a German banker. During a tour around the apartment my wife noticed an old photo of a German military man standing next to a tank with a swatiska arm band. The banker explained it was his grandfather from WWII. My wife, being Russian said in reply that both of her grandfathers were in the war as well (one was an artillery officer, the other a fighter pilot – both survived btw – The pilot got shot down in Poland and had to make his way back to the frontline on foot ). This started a whole conversation on battles each grandfather participated in, locations fought, etc (maybe a bit too prideful on both sides). Anyway, I don’t think we ever told my college mate about it (he is a non-practicing Serbian Jew – he once freaked out when a Sri-Lankan college friend had indian swatiska hanging in his college dorm room). The German banker seemed pretty normal, and I think he said he didn’t support the idealogy but wanted to remember his grandfather. I guess Germans in general have more practice with cognitive dissonance than other nationalities.

  9. philg

    June 19, 2017 @ 7:23 pm


    German: Thanks for the story. What I thought was funny wasn’t that my German-born friend would be comfortable with her father’s Nazi past (he’s her dad, after all). It was that all of these Americans clicked “like” on a Nazi-related item without, I think, realizing it (you did have to zoom in to see the swastika).

    Of course, one way to look at this is that it is all the fault of Donald Trump. He has made it OKAY to support Nazi ideology! 🙂

  10. Anonymous

    June 20, 2017 @ 11:51 am


    Such an armband probably signifies that the wearer served in ss tank division and massacred civilians regularly. Not only Jews should feel threatened. Nazis had pretty nasty plans for Russians and others in their Barbarossa chief attack plan, short of total annihilation but close. It is really hard to imagine what would happen if they won and ruled for half of century or so. They definitely had no check or balances on their rule.

  11. Vince

    June 20, 2017 @ 9:50 pm


    Plenty of American service members committed war crimes in Vietnam. It’s quite like that millions of Americans of display photographs of their Vietnam veteran fathers and grandfathers without giving any though to that fact.

    Also, regarding this:

    Note that, for a person this age, the statistically most common reason for “father left” was “mother sued father for divorce and, under no-fault system, was guaranteed to win the divorce while, under a gender-neutral custody system, was 95-percent likely to win custody.”]

    Is this person over 50? For a person under 30, it’s quite possible that the parents weren’t married.

  12. philg

    June 20, 2017 @ 11:07 pm


    Under 30 with a dead father is rare.

    Under 30 and using Facebook? That’s a unicorn!

  13. Anonymous

    June 21, 2017 @ 11:44 am


    Vince: How many? Do you have exact data? You present your empty slandering as a fact. In fact US was protecting South Vietnam by South Vietnam request and there are many Vietnamese refugees in the USA. Hope you heard about boat people. In Nazi Germany there was slave labor imported in freight trains, that’s about it. You elevate imaginary genocide to diminish real Nazi one.

  14. Vince

    June 21, 2017 @ 4:10 pm


    We’re going off on a tangent here, but the whole American effort in Vietnam was contrary to international agreements, probably making it a giant war crime in itself. Regarding the South Vietnamese government, we were really just propping up an unpopular dictatorship. It’s quite possible that most people in South Vietnam didn’t want the American army in their country, making it an invasion of South Vietnam. I could go on if I had the time. Anyway, the point is not diminish the Nazi war crimes of WW2. If you’re going to play the comparison game, that’s got to be the worst.

  15. Anonymous

    June 21, 2017 @ 5:17 pm


    I happen to know other military side to the conflict. North Vietnam was heavily propped by Soviet Union, with state of the arts armaments, experts and volunteers. South Vietnam was kind-of betrayed by Democrats in US congress who disallowed arms shipments to South Vietnam after US troops moved out. It did not have chances against communist dictatorships but managed to survive for few more years without external help. Boat people were seeking refuge way after fall of Saigon, they were not connected to South Vietnam authorities. What exact treaties US broke? Are you about agent Orange use? True it was not great or sane decision to use it, as many others, but the substance does not constitute chemical weapon as poison gas per se.

  16. philg

    June 21, 2017 @ 5:56 pm


    I’m not an expert on Vietnam, but I think it would be equally funny if a Facebook user in Vietnam posted a picture of his or her father in a 1960s U.S. Army officer’s uniform and then, without realizing it, 27 Vietnamese friends clicked on “like”.

  17. Vince

    June 21, 2017 @ 9:32 pm


    Note that, for a person this age, the statistically most common reason for “father left” was “mother sued father for divorce and, under no-fault system, was guaranteed to win the divorce while, under a gender-neutral custody system, was 95-percent likely to win custody.”

    Another point about this is no fault divorce was first passed in California in 1969 and took another 10 years to spread around the country. So if the person was 3 when his father left, he or she would have to be 51 or younger is that happened in California or younger than 41 in some other states.

  18. Vince

    June 21, 2017 @ 9:40 pm


    I don’t know the history well, but my understanding is that there were international agreements negotiated at the time that the French were pulling out of Vietnam in the middle of the 1950s. The division into North and South was supposed to be temporary and there were supposed to be negotiations between the Vietnamese themselves to determine how their country would be governed. From what I remember, the American decision to arm one side was a violation of those agreements.

    Off the top of my head I also remember see in TV documentaries something broadcast on the CBS Evening News in 1966. Morley Safer was with a group of Marines who were ordered to destroy a group of villages. This involved, among other things, forcing families out of their houses and setting them on fire with Zippo lighters. I’m pretty sure that that would have to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Certainly the My Lai massacre would fall into that category as well.

  19. Anonymous

    June 22, 2017 @ 1:40 pm


    No wonder you do not know about the treaties. Even soviet propaganda never mentioned them, they were usually first to PR on any US mistake. That’s because they heavily armed NV communists and VC first and US did not break the treaty, it was never in force. Generically, those post WWII UN ‘treaties’ where underdogs could not procure weapons incentivized powers who had regional backing to attack first and resulted in series of wars. While events reported by Morley Safer are regrettable some could understand them in gorilla warfare context (peaceful citizen during the day, bandit at night) Not sure about logic of it, it seems relatively easy to re-build Vietnamese – style house but in some regions such punishment is a big deterrent.Not that I like it. VC were terrorists and bombed regular peaceful Vietnamese regularly, with many maimed and killed in cafes, shops and such. Not a regular army. North Vietnam or VC were never part of Geneva agreements and killed and tortured American POWs (and sometimes transferred them to USSR security services), ask senator McCain. My Lai is an instance of a war crime for sure, but it happened less than in armies of other large countries. It was stopped by an American warrant officer – who overrode more senior officer, such also could sometimes happen in Red Army) and surviving commander was sentenced to life – not comparable to anything Nazi did or even USSR in Afghanistan,

  20. Vince

    June 22, 2017 @ 4:04 pm


    I just mentioned a few things about the Vietnam war off the top of my head. If someone stopped the My Lai massacre, he stopped it too late. Hundreds of civilians were slaughtered in cold blood. Only one person was ever charged and he ended serving 3½ years house arrest. I just took couple of minutes to read something written by the Australian journalist John Pilger. It reminded me of the fact that the South Vietnam regime that America propped up didn’t tolerate any dissent. “In 1959 the Diem regime passed a law requiring the death sentence for those found guilty of speaking out or ‘spreading rumours’ against the government.”

    If there’s argument to be made that all armies commit war crimes, that’s just another argument that America shouldn’t have gone to war against the Vietnamese in the first place.

Log in