Friday, May 27, 2011

An American Patriot

With Memorial Day just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to say a few words today about Flannery O'Connor's father, Edward. Besides being the loving and devoted father of the author, O'Connor was an American patriot who served our country with distinction in France during the First World War. He was born in Savannah and educated at Benedictine College, a military prep school in the city. Following graduation from St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, he enlisted in the armed forces of the United States. Between May of 1916 and August, 1917, O'Connor served in the Georgia National Guard, patrolling the New Mexico border under the command of General John J. Pershing. Between April 1918 and May 1919, O'Connor was stationed overseas as a member of the 82nd Division of the American Expeditionary Force, the famed "All Americans" out of Camp Gordon, Georgia. For his valor in combat, Lieutenant Edward O'Connor was awarded a World War I Victory Medal and Victory Button. Following his stint in the service, O'Connor became highly involved in the American Legion, serving as commander of Chatham Post 36 and chairman of the Veterans Council of Administration. As Commander of the American Legion for the entire state of Georgia, Edward O'Connor traveled a great deal and made speeches, which made his daughter's heart swell with pride. The feeling was mutual. When O'Connor would go on speaking engagements, he carried in his billfold some of Flannery's early artistic creations, usually drawings of chickens, which he showed off to his colleagues in the American Legion. For more detailed biographical information on Edward O'Connor, check out Brad Gooch's biography, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor as well as Sarah Gordon's A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia. Finally, please note that Andalusia will be closed on Monday, May 30th, for Memorial Day. Have a safe and restful holiday.
- Mark

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