The Composer's notes on "Daddy, I Remember You"
The idea of writing a song to honor my dad was born sometime around Memorial Day, 2005. I worked on it for about a year before telling anyone - even my husband, Ken. It was my own personal journey.
My dad, Private First Class Joe Kenneth Elkins, died on Friday, April 13, 1945, at a bridge near Zeitz, Germany - only days before WW II ended in Europe. He was only twenty-seven years old. Mom was twenty-five. She is now eighty-six and has never remarried. She always said that she had found the one she wanted and she didn?t want anyone else.
My mother made sure my brother Bobby and I did not forget our dad. She kept a written log of the events that she knew about during the time that he was away, and of the events surrounding his death. I made copies of this log for my sons, David and Derek, so that they would know about their grandfather, about their heritage (I wish my dad could have known his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and his great-great granddaughter).
A few years ago Mom went through all of his letters that she has kept all of these years. She copied portions from them that daddy had written to Bobby and me. One of his main concerns that he wrote in his letters to us was, "Are you going to Sunday School and Church to learn about Jesus." In his very last letter, written April 6, 1945, only one week before he was killed, he wrote about how much he would like to be there for Bobby's fourth birthday (April 12, 1945). He said he would be thinking of all of us. I have a picture taken at Bobby's birthday party that day out in Grandma's yard. Daddy died the next day. I had my second birthday about six weeks later on May 22, 1945 - my dad's birthday.
I have no memories of my dad - only "borrowed memories," which is what "Daddy, I Remember You" is about. Mom always spoke of him in a positive way. There were never any negative seeds planted in my mind concerning him, for which I am grateful. Therefore, to me he is my hero. When I go home, I see the Purple Heart and the Silver Star that the army awarded him, "For gallantry in action ..." hanging on my mother's wall.
To my knowledge, he was the only one from our small town of Magnolia, Kentucky, to die in WW II. As a result, the townspeople always seemed to reach out to us, and of course we had wonderful grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were a part of our daily lives. My cousin Jimmy said recently that he thought Bobby and I were his brother and sister until he was about eight years old. We were always together. Bobby and I had very happy and secure childhoods. We always knew that we were loved. Mama made sure of that. She was always there for us.
All of the men and women, who have died in all of the wars throughout the years, have done so that we, as a country, might be free - that the citizens of this country would be able to live our lives in peace. The problem is - with freedom comes responsibility to God and to our fellowman. I wonder if my dad would be pleased with what we as a country have done with the freedom that he and all of the others gave their lives for? Yes, I wonder. Thank you daddy!
This song is written in honor of all of the men and women who went off to war, but never came home. It is dedicated to all of their loved ones, especially the children, who, like Bobby and me, were too young to remember.
I would like to thank Eliza and Eliana Benedick for adding their precious voices to this recording. Also, I want to thank my son Derek for playing the harmonica, my son David for playing the guitar, and Jim Wingerter, our praise and worship leader, for playing taps on the bugle. All other instruments were computer generated by Jim, who was also the recording engineer. I want to thank my sister-in-law, Evelyn Garrison, for the label design.
Finally, I would like to give special recognition to the late Mr. Howard Gardner, my mother?s cousin, who photographed my dad?s final homecoming and his military funeral in January of 1949 (my dad was buried in a military cemetery in Germany in 1945, and then brought home to Kentucky in 1949). Without these pictures, so many "memories" would not exist. We have included them in the DVD presentation.