My daddy, Estel Shoemaker, Jr. in his senior portrait.
On my father's 60th birthday, we gave him a surprise birthday party. In fact, it ended up being more like a "roast" when just about everyone present stood up and told a funny or embarrassing story about him. During my brother's segment of the evening, he relayed a message that my father had always reminded him during his childhood. The statement was "always remember your name". When he first said it, people laughed because it does sound like a joke. But, my father meant it in a deeper context, because the sentence goes on, "Always remember your name, because there are those who share it with you".
His meaning to us was very clear. We were never to do anything to bring shame to ourselves or to our family.
I've thought about those words many times. In this day and age, when everyone seems to be thinking, "I'll do what I want. It's MY life and I am the only one who has to live with the consequences", it's interesting to ponder how life would be different if more people would think about how their actions affect their family members well-being and reputations before they act. I realize there are many that might not care, but I think that my ancestors probably thought quite a bit about how their actions reflected upon their loved ones. I know I have never wanted to bring any negative attention to my family, and although I may not have always lived up to my intentions I continue to hear my father's voice repeating, "Always remember your name".