Tonight Minter Dial joined family, friends, and many others as we saw an advance screening of the companion documentary to his book at The Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Some of us also had the good fortune to spend some additional time with Minter beforehand at Xolo Tacos in Bryn Mawr. The opening photo was after he signed my copy of his beautiful book which I read cover to cover in one sitting.
It is a sad, beautiful, bittersweet tale of his own journey to learn about a grandfather he never knew and his grandfather’s tale.
His grandfather survived over 2 years in a Japanese internment camp in World War II but never made it home.
There are other stories within the stories including of his grandfather’s US Naval Academy ring (Class of 1932). I am not saying any more because I want people to buy the book AND watch the documentary on Friday.
We have had such a brutal campaign season and tonight was a welcome respite and a tangible reminder of what it is to be an American, and a reminder of what our members of the armed forces have fought and died for since the Revolutionary War.
At the Q and A after the film, Minter read an excerpt of a speech given by his great grandfather who was a United States Senator from South Carolina 1919 to 1925. Senator Nathaniel Barksdsle Dial’s last speech while a U.S. Senator was eerily timely today, in 2016. He spoke of how he was sick of the then political divisiveness he saw in his day. It was astounding.
It is amazing and emotional and so darn well written. This book, written by my friend Minter Dial is simply blowing me away. It is a very personal greatest generation story, the story of his paternal grandfather. Bravo, Minter.
The Last Ring Home is the story of Lt Minter Dial’s Annapolis Naval Academy ring, that miraculously made its way home 17 years after he was killed as a POW of the Japanese in WWII. The Last Ring Home is a tribute to Lt Dial, the producer’s grandfather, and all members of the Greatest Generation. It is also a journey of self-discovery, having an impact on the filmmaker, his wider family and many other people in its wake. This story, which took over 25 years of research, illustrates the importance of serendipity and the role of good and bad luck in piecing together a personal history of someone who died 70 years ago.The Last Ring Home is to inspire everyone to uncover their own personal history, to keep a foot in their past and the other in the future, and to be thankful for the tremendous present in which we live, thanks to the sacrifices of the those who fought in WWII.
In the spring of 1962, the United States Navy was excavating a site in Inchon, Korea, when the discovery of human remains led officers to believe they had come across the site of a prisoner-of-war camp. More than a decade earlier, during the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur commanded some 75,000 United Nations ground forces and more than 250 ships into the Battle of Inchon—a surprise assault that led, just two weeks later, to the recapture of Seoul from the North Korean People’s Army. But the 1962 Inchon excavation led to an unexpected find….the vehicle was speeding through the crowded streets of Inchon as the two men visited one pawnshop after another until they found the guilty laborer. The ring was in the process of being smelted. The admiral demanded that it be recovered. It had been partially melted down, but once it cooled and he was able to wipe away the grime, Pressey recognized that it was indeed an Annapolis class ring. Class of 1932. Pressey had been at the U.S. Naval Academy at the same time. His heart began to pound as he tilted the blue stone ring toward the light. Engraved on the inside was a name he knew: Dial.
Nathaniel Minter Dial had been one of Pressey’s best friends at Annapolis. They were teammates on the lacrosse squad, and Pressey and his wife had been members of the wedding party when Dial married his longtime sweetheart, Lisa Porter, in 1934. Pressey had just one thought—to get the ring back to Lisa.
Memories and sadness came flooding over the 51-year-old admiral. Minter Dial, the son of U.S. Senator Nathaniel B. Dial of South Carolina, was the quintessential all-American boy. He was affable, educated, terrifically athletic and married to a beautiful young woman who had given up her theatrical ambitions to start a home and raise a family. He was going places, and in the summer of 1941, he headed for the Pacific.
I have not finished the book yet. I think I am going to need a box of tissues to get through it.
This will be an exclusive screening of the The Last Ring Home, presented by the filmmaker and author of the eponymous book. The event will consist of the screening, a talk and a Q&A, plus book signing.
Tue, November 8, 2016 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
And yes, the screening is election day. So what. You will be out by nine as the returns start to come in and you will miss two hours of the ugliest campaign season in American History, for something worthwhile. Actual American History about a member of the Greatest Generation. A true American Hero.