WWII veteran’s missing dog tags found in unlikely spot: ‘My heart just stopped’
A pair of Kentucky high school students stumbled upon a unique and rare piece of history while cleaning up a local park this month.
The treasure – a dog tag belonging to Fred Jackson, a celebrated World War II veteran and Lexington’s first elected African American constable – was found by Woodford County High School juniors Meghan Burke and Hattie Steen while they were cleaning up around the foundation of an old house in Huntertown Community Interpretive Park near Versailles.
The place where the dog tag was found is where Jackson’s former home once stood, according to Lexington’s WKYT News.
“I was surprised to just find it just sitting there on the surface level,” Steen said, according to the outlet. “And it wasn’t rusty. It was just a little dirty, but that was about it.”
After the discovery, the students decided to turn the find over to Sioux Finney, a board member at Huntertown Interpretive Park.
“They were so excited because they knew the person,” Steen recalled.
“I walked over there, and I looked at the dog tag, and I saw it said Fred D. Jackson, and I said, ‘Girls, I’m about to faint,’” Finney told the outlet.
Jackson, who also served as a civil rights leader in his community, passed away in 2007. However, the community continues to honor his legacy and the City of Lexington reportedly designated Nov. 19 as Fred Jackson Day.
In an interview with Lexington’s Fox 56, Ron Jackson, the son of the esteemed veteran, described the moment he received the “wonderful news.”
“My heart just stopped for a moment. Tears would start flowing out of my eyes. I told my wife; I said, ‘They found Daddy’s dog tags,’” he recalled. “They didn’t mean anything to her, but it meant so much to me because my father was an amazing man. He did so much for us.”
Fred Jackson’s sister, Geraldine Jackson Berry, was also shocked by the discovery and commended the teens for making sure it ended up in the right hands.
“I can’t describe how I feel about them. They’re amazing,” Berry said, according to WKYT. “It’s good that they recognize that it was something important and showed it to Sioux.”
The dog tag was later turned over to members of Jackson’s family, who gathered in person to take a look at the one-of-a-kind relic.
Though the discovery will be hard to beat, Burke told the outlet that she and Steen are eager to return to the site to see what else they can find.
“I don’t know if we can top that, but I would like to try,” she said.