Take the name, “Kilroy.” Who is he, anyway?
I’m so glad you asked. During WWII, the phrase, “Kilroy Was Here” got scrawled all over the world…wherever the Allied Forces marched, the slogan could be found: Italy, France, Germany. Sometimes it was on a tree, but more often it was found in places like the Berlin Wall, the Eifel Tower, and reportedly in Hitler’s bunker. When a soldier saw the image, he felt some calm assurance that he was not alone, an ally had been there before him.
Ironically, Hitler took “Kilroy” to be some super spy and he was paranoid about his presence.
After the war, The New York Times indicated that James J. Kilroy originated the cartoon and slogan. Kilroy was an American shipyard inspector. After the Amalgamated Transit Union conducted a contest to determine the origin, J.J. Kilroy was credited with the phrase. He would leave his mark on ships to mark rivets he had checked. At the end of a riveter’s shift, he (more likely “she”) would make a chalk mark to show where he left off and the next “Rosie the Riveter” had started.
A few unscrupulous riveters moved the chalk mark back, taking credit for more piece work and more pay than they had actually earned. To stop the practice, J.J. Kilroy wrote, “Kilroy Was Here,” at the site of each chalk mark. No graffiti-artist could have gotten inside the sealed hull of a ship, but Kilroy did! Before it was sealed.
Thousands of servicemen saw the slogan on outgoing ships and engraved the legend in newly captured areas during WWII. The slogan, “Kilroy Was Here,” has a ora of omnipresence. He was everywhere present at the same time.
I know that only the Judeo-Christian God has that true attribute, but if you let your imagination wander, maybe God allowed the Kilroy phrase as a reminder. There is no place where the Lord has not been or where He is not or where He will not be. Of course all analogies break down at some point, but it’s comforting to know that God was there first! He has many names: Almighty God, Saviour, Messiah, Comforter, Healer, and Counselor, for instance.
So much is wrapped up in a name. Knowing that, I try to guard my name. I don’t want anything disgraceful to be associated with my name. When I leave my mark, I want the people who knew me best to say, “‘Effie Was Here,’ and I’m so glad she stayed a while.”
Apparently Nana Smith of Des Moines, Iowa felt that way. A few years ago she decided to look up Mynita and Effie Groves. I love computers. When my sister and I responded to her internet request, we were instantly connected to our elementary school friend. Nana said that her mother didn’t let her play with just any one, but she liked Mynita and Effie. I’m glad Nana searched for our names. We got to meet her once again and take pictures, even of our old school held in Fort Des Moines on the old military training grounds. Isn’t life strange? And wonderful! It just keeps marching along.
Maybe someday I’ll write about mistaken identity when my husband and his identical twin wore identical Army uniforms with a name label of “Gross” when I was a young bride at Las Cruces, New Mexico. (Okay, this is a teaser, I’ll confess.)