The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


db Conard, The Quill

My Father's Sword

I was on an island in northern Minnesota when I received a call from a friend and neighbor. I knew immediately from the tone of his voice that something was wrong.

I prayed that it was a joke when he said that he was standing where there used to be a door to my home, and that mine had been literally smashed in.

I had been robbed, and to make matters worse, my home had been ransacked. The first thing that came to my mind was my father's sword.

Had I stored it as I usually did when I would be away? I was sure that I had not, and on this rare occasion that I had failed to protect it. It was gone!

Thieves now held a legacy of six generations of the military men of my family who had carried the sword.

The people who had robbed my home could have no idea of the value or the meaning of what they now held. The saber began six generations ago when my namesake's name was engraved on the blade.

Carried by cavalry Officers and West Point Cadets on parade, the sword embodied the word tradition. It was as though there was a physical connection with every other soldier in the family who drew the blade as his own for the first time. You knew what they felt and thought at that moment, because it had to be the same as you.

Months passed and the list of items stolen or broken grew. The Sheriff's men came as did the state crime lab. Fingerprints and DNA, suspicions, leads, then a phone call from the deputy asking me to come and identify some property.

As I drove up I was surprised by all the police cars, then I saw my trumpets, and my sail boat on the back of a squad car. Then came my rugs, BBQ grill, fans, my hat, etc, but no sword, and a lot of other things were still missing.

Then while I was standing in the drive talking with a group of the police officers, out of the house came a deputy, with my sword in his hand.

Amen, is the best word that comes to my mind to describe my relief when the blade was returned.

Looking around me I could see the satisfaction on the faces of these lawmen who could not help but feel good about the results of their good work. Each of the men there seemed to understand the meaning of the moment.

When you are on an island by yourself you have time to think without many distractions. Needless to say, I dwelled on the sword and its loss to the extent that at 3 in the morning, it would be on my mind like a bad dream. The anguish would continue until it was recovered.

The sword was meant to be passed on to my youngest son whose name the blade already bears

I believe the sword still serves in that it helped to bring together a surprising number of people, without whom a wonderful tradition would have ended in regret.

Friends and neighbors went out of their way to make my home secure and protected my belongings in my absence, Still other friends put their ear to the ground for word on who the thieves were.

Thankfully, there is one down now and already serving prison time for another crime and there is at least, one more to catch which will eventually happen.

My gains will far out weigh my losses in that I will not only have a renewed appreciation for the tradition of the sword, but also for my friends, my neighbors, and our public servants.

I can not think of a better time of year for this to be resolved than when we come together for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

There could not have been a better gift than when the deputy returned the sword to me. I have a renewed appreciation for things too often taken for granted. The words E Pluribus Unum-"Out of Many, One" .

Like the celebration of Christmas by almost losing something, I really came to appreciate it more by first mourning its loss, then celebrating its return.

The symbolism of my old sword is very much like the celebration of Christmas.

As the faithful mourned the crucifixion, the whole of Jesus' life came into perspective, and importance when he was resurrected.

My Father's Sword is a Conard family heirloom past down from my grandfather's uncle, a Cavalry Officer, to my Grandfather, also a cavalry Officer, to my father a Colonel (all three West Point graduates) and then to me as I became a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army. It will be passed on to my son who just recently became an officer in the U.S. Army. In the last two generations alone, our Conard families have had 13 West Point graduates.