Robert E. Cardinal

Contributed by Cate Reiter, Altoona, WI

Lonely Chippewa Sergeant Writes Tribute to Dad
March 25, 1943
Chippewa Herald
Out of the loneliness that only a soldier knows, Sergeant Robert E. Cardinal, 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Cardinal, city, wrote a tribute to his Dad while serving with the Armed Forces on the desolate islands of the Aleutian group in Alaska and, after having written, felt too self-conscious to send it on to its destination. Appearing in a current newspaper, the letter was sent to the United States by a buddy, who sensed in it the same soul-stirring thoughts that he, too, had experienced but could not express.

It is reprinted at the request of friends here who knew Robert as a friend while attending McDonell High School. In its first appearance, the publication said, "Some may feel that his capitalization is irreverent. We, on the Green Sheet, feel that his capitalization is great and good and glorious, the kind of worship that may lead, in time, a peaceful world in which all mankind comes nearer to divinity. The letter entitled, He's My Dad, written by Sergeant Cardinal follows:

"I haven't seen Him for over a year, but I remember every little detail of His face, as we said 'Good-bye.' I was going on overseas duty, and He knew it, and all the emotions that were welling up within Him, all the things my leaving made Him feel, were written on His face. His shoulders were back, His head was high, a smile was on His lips, and there were tears in His eyes. He was proud of me, and I was prouder of Him because, you see, HE'S MY DAD.

"There is nothing spectacular about Him. He is just an ordinary American, having His ups and His downs. He is just a real Guy, the kind that you meet every day, the kind of man that makes America what it is today, a country worth fighting for. If you would meet Him on the street and talk with Him, you would perhaps say, 'There is John Q. Public.'  To you, he would be just another man but, to me, He is a Soldier and a good one, too. He is doing His job, doing it well, fighting this war from the home front. But he is something more than that, too, because, you see, HE'S MY DAD.

Because, I'm His Son
"It took a war--a bitter, hard, and cruel war--to make me realize just what He does mean to me. For twenty-one years, He has worked hard to educate, clothe, and feed me. When I needed something, He gave it to me, if it were humanly possible. When I needed advice, I got it, and it was good, too. Yes, He was harsh at times, but it was for my own good, but I never realized that. It took a war to make me understand, to make me know, the things He has gone through. True, I am only a Sergeant, but it makes no difference to Him whether I am a Private, Sergeant, or a Captain because, you see, HE'S MY DAD.

"Every week I get a letter from Him, and don't think for a minute that they aren't solid, because they are. Sure, He misses me, and I miss Him but, too, He knows that we both have a job to do, so that other Kids and Dads can go on having the swell times we had. In His letters, He tells me how things are going back home. He tells me all the good things that are happening. He never complains about the gas rationing, the sugar rationing, or the meatless days, or the thousand and one other things He has to contend with on account of this war. No, He never complains, because He knows that all those things, plus ten percent of His check, which is going for War Bonds, is giving me the guns, the bullets, and the food to fight with here. His letters are cheerful, almost gay at times but, in between the lines, there is an unwritten emotion that keeps saying, 'I miss you, Son, but do your job and give them HELL.' He knows me because, you see, I'm His son and HE'S MY DAD.

We Helped Do It
"Some day, by the Grace of God and my Garand, I'm going home to my Girl, to my Mother, and to Him. I'll get off the train in that small town in Wisconsin, and He'll be there, that same smile on His face and tear in His eye. He won't say much, but He'll shake my hand and put His arm around me, and say, 'Welcome Home Son.' There won't be any show, or noise, nor bands playing, nor flags flying. It will not be hilarious meeting, that I know. I'll shake His hand, make a pass at His jaw, and say, 'We helped do it, Skipper.' The things we will feel on that day cannot be written. Webster just doesn't have the right words because, you see, HE'S MY DAD.

"I haven't seen Him for over a year filled with heartbreak, with tears, and with blood but, as I sit here tonight, I can see Him as though it were only yesterday I left Him. Ever since I can remember, He's been my Buddie, My Pal; just a great Guy, but yet He is something more because, you see, HE'S MY DAD."