There was a moving article in the Register-Herald this morning about the passing of Raleigh County attorney William H. File, Jr. Though I did not know him, I can’t help but admire the life that this man led.
Aside from a four-year stint during which he served the United States during World War II, File had served the citizens of southern West Virginia since 1937 as a member of File, Payne, Scherer and File, a firm started by his uncle Ashton File in 1902.
File’s time in the Navy was anything but uneventful, as he witnessed first-hand the invasions of Normandy and Sicily and, shortly after the invasion of Okinawa, was involved in a kamikaze attack off the coast.
During the attack, the ship of which he was the commanding officer served as a rescue boat of sorts for the crew of the larger USS Callaghan, which exploded and sank after it was struck by a kamikaze.
For his service, File received a Legion of Merit as well as a Silver Star.
As I noted a few days ago, many in our country are doing their best to make sure that we churn out a bunch of sissies, who can’t even be in the presence of a wooden mock gun – much less defend the world against a brutal and evil empire – as this man did. And then he returned to America and continued to practice law as if nothing had ever happened. People of that generation were passionate about everything they did – from defending the country to practicing law. To be enthusiastic about the practice of law until your 90’s is truly remarkable and is probably not something we will see very often in the future.
How many modern day lawyers would have so many people come forward at their death and extoll their virtues and their life? Nowadays it’s all about money. Most people would cut your throat if they thought they could make a buck – especially lawyers. Incivility is the rule, and arrogance and ego reigns supreme. Everyday members of our greatest generation are disappearing, and leaving with them are the final remnants of an era when men were men….