My father, I. Granger McDaniel was a true hero and legend in WWII. I planned on writing about a letter he wrote to his mom, after being shot down over the North Sea.
But there’s another story I heard over and over again, and even as a little girl, I thought it was really funny.
Dad left high school and ran off, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to join the war effort when he was just 17, before the United States was in the fight. Because he had some flying experience ended up in England as a piolit for the RAF (Royal Air Forcer) at the ridicuolsy young age of 17. Dad was captain of a Short Sterling, a massive bomber with a seven or eight man crew.
When Dad wasn’t flying, he was in London, and spent a great deal of time in the RAF Officers Club. Every night, when the bar closed all the officers would stand as the band played God Save the King.
One night, after hours of drinking, Dad stood up to address the gentlemen in the club. Imagine a brash teen aged pilot, surrounded by older British officers, drunk but determined and sincere. He told the band director they should play his national anthem as well as God Save The King. He was fighting for their country, America should be recognized. The band leader acquiesced and agreed to play the United State’s national anthem before God Save the King.
Then has asked Dad to sing the song, to refresh his memory. Dad was young and drunk, he thought for a moment then started humming Dixie. “I wish I were in Dixie, away away.”
Aaahhhh yes, the band leader recognized the tune.
The next night all the RAF officers stood in reverence as the band played Dixie, then God Save th King.
The following morning Dad walked out of his room and was immediately arrested. The charge was Treason against the King. Dad’s superiors thought he was mocking the British Monarchy when he asked the band to play Dixie and claimed it was the USA’s national anthem.
A barrister was assigned to represent Daddy in court. He was a smart, fat, sweaty man. And when he heard the details of the situation he came up with an idea for a defense almost immediately.
Just a few days latter they stood in front of a judge to plead Dad’s case. Remember, all of England was under attack as the Nazis stormed across Europe. The country was under siege and desperate. So the smart sweaty barrister explained, with elaborate detail, that Daddy’s family was not only from America, they were from”The South”. When the South tried to succeed from the Union, Dad’s family fought in the Civil War valiantly, with heart and soul. Cousins, brothers and fathers died in The War of The States. According to Dad, and the sweaty barrister, our family never surrendered to the North, never acknowledge the losse to the north and in Daddy’s heart, “The South” was still his nation, therefore Dixie was in fact, his national anthem.
Obviously my father, the arrogant and brilliant teen aged pilot was of more use the England bombing Nazis then he was behind bars. So the judge accepted his transparent explanation and he was cleared of treason charges.
Six months latter he was shot down over the North Sea and spent four years in POW camps. But that’s a story for another day. Have a wonderful Memorial Day and thank you to all our men and women in the armed forces.