As my fathers surname was Brown it was quite difficult to trace him. Of course only the information mothers revealed could be recorded in official records and it later turned out that not only his hometown but also his middle name was recorded wrongly and everyone but the military only knew him only by his middle name Harlan.
Back in the 1970s when I started my search no one in the United States nor in Germany was able to or wanted to help. The soldiers right to stay anonymus was protected, and in Germany the mothers right to keep the facts to herself was valued higher than the childs right to know its own descend. This has changed considerably in the meantime.
My grandma, whom I loved dearly, told me not to be too upset as I had quite an ancestry to be proud of and that my maternal ancestors have lived in the same town for more than three hundred years. She also told me that she and my grandpa wouldn't allow their daughter and my dad to get married. If she only said that to comfort me, I don't know but her telling me about my maternal ancestors and me not knowing anything about my paternal family got me started with genealogy. I wanted to belong and at least know one half of my roots. My grandma patiently taught me the old german script and deciphering the old handwriting. She was able to read and write the old script as it was still taught when she went to school in the early 1900s. I was hoping to find a trace of my dad along my way of research. I have now researched my maternal ancestors in Baden, Germany back to the early 1400s, my paternal ancestors in the United States in South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky back to 1774, and my sons paternal ancestors in the dutch-speaking province of Flanders, Belgium back to 1614.
Back when I started my search I didn't know that I would have to search for that trace of my dad for so many years. But even if I had known that wouldn't have stopped me from searching. Often times I wanted to give up but then, after a few months the longing started again. I have searched countless avenues that often ended in dead ends, but in the end I can say it was worth all the effort.
As is often the case my mother also wouldn't talk about the subject at all, she wouldn't even tell me a name. It was not until some years later that I got some information, not from her, of course, when I was of age. It was the year when I turned 18 that the law was changed and one became of age at 18. I had hoped for that change so much - three years less to wait to get access to my records. But, when I went to see my records all the information I got was that my file had already been sent to me. I hadn't received anything of course. It was probably actually sent but not handed over to me. About six years later I finally got some information. I wasn't allowed to actually look at my file, not even touch it, but was able to ask questions. I finally got a name, hometown, which later turned out to be wrong, his military unit and age. I started searching - one year, two years, ten years - nothing. After thirty years of searching, interrupted by the birth of my son and living and working in the United States and for the US Military, one day, when I was about to give up for good, the miracle happened. I finally found my family and received my first letter from my dads sister shortly before Christmas 2000, making this a very, very special Christmas. The pictures feature my dad (on the left) while in the Military and the other while he was with the Kentucky State Police.