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The Words of My Father: Never Give up Ground Won

The Element of Surprise

The date was January 22, 1944, the day the U.S. Fifth Army successfully conducted an amphibious landing on the beach at Anzio, Italy, the beginning of Operation Shingle. The success of the Operation depended entirely on the element of surprise. The goal was to quickly land on that beach and then push inland, towards Rome, before the Germans were aware of the invasion.

And the landing was a success, the German command caught completely off-guard, and the push inland would have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, if it were not for a commanding General who was not terribly confident in the plan and decided to delay the advancement until he was sure he had every advantage possible.

That delay gave the Germans times to mount a defense, in the hills above that beach, and the weeks that followed were absolute hell for the Americans as mortars rained down upon them, their positions visible to the German gunners, and really the only escape route consisting of swimming back from where they came.

My father was a member of that Fifth Army, trapped on that beach. He was witness to the ramifications which can arise from delay. He was witness to bodies blown apart, to children losing their fathers, to futures forever altered, and when I asked him about it once, when I asked him how he somehow managed to remain sane and concentrate on his job, as a soldier, without losing his mind, he simply told me “Bill, you never give up ground won, and you never let the bastards know you’re afraid. We had won that beach, fair and square, and there was no way we were giving it back to the Germans.”

Dale LeRoy Holland

Dale LeRoy Holland

My Suspicions

I don’t think, for a second, that my dad’s personal credo of not giving up ground won began during World War 2. My dad was a brawler, make no mistake about it. He stood about five-six, weighed, in shape, about one-eighty, barrel-chested, strong forearms, a formidable foe to face, and during his early years he had been shaped by fighting for ground against two older brothers, fighting for ground during the Great Depression, and fighting for ground against the bigots of the world who thought the Irish were just a little less than.

To put it simply, he had a chip on his shoulder the size of a first-growth Redwood. He treated people with respect as long as he received the same. Heaven help the poor fool who treated my father with something less than respect. Dad’s response to disrespect was swift and forceful, and he would not take a step back in any confrontation.

Heaven Help His Son

I was a runt growing up. I didn’t think I would ever make it to five feet in height. When I was in elementary school I was the smallest in my class. When I entered high school I believe I was five-two and weighed a whopping one-ten.

I was fodder for bullies, and if you think bullying is nasty in today’s world, you should have grown up during the 50’s. My childhood was a classic example of Darwinism.

Now, for a moment, consider what I just told you. I was a runt, I was bullied, and I had a father who lived according to the credo that you never give up ground, you stand your ground, and you demand respect!

I have no idea how many fights I was in before I reached my teen years. There were weeks, and I’m being quite literal now, when I would be in a fight every single day, and I lost a vast majority of those fights. I would come home, bruised, cut lip, scratches, scrapes, and Mom would be there, bandages in hand, to patch me up, only to have the same scene play out again the next day, and the next, and the next.

Never give up ground won! Never back down from a fight! Never let the bastards see your fear!

There were no parent/teacher conferences back then, not for something like schoolyard fights. There were no counseling sessions. You learned to handle the situation, period, end of story, because to run from a fight, well, that just wasn’t an option, not with my father, Mr. Anzio-ducking mortars-blood-and-guts-Holland.

My dad!

My dad!

The Solution

I wasn’t the only runt in our school. There were several of us, each “victims” of bullying, quiet kids, small kids, and we learned a valuable lesson about comradeship. I’m not sure when we had a sit-down discussion about the bullying. I’m not sure who had the genius idea of “power in numbers,” but it eventually dawned on us to stick close together, and when a threat appeared, to show power in numbers. When one of us was threatened by a bully, we would all close ranks around our comrade, and inform the bully that he was going to fight four of us, not one of us. It took about two such fights, both won by our group, for the bullying to end.

Mess with one of us, you mess with all of us, and I’ll be damned, it worked! Thank you to the Three Musketeers for the inspiration.

Mom stopped buying bandages!

By the time I arrived at high school, the bullying had ended. I was still small for my age, but I was also damned good at baseball, and in high school, athletes are somewhat untouchable. Anyone stupid enough to mess with an athlete in high school would soon find himself stuffed in a gym locker, or given a “swirly” in the toilet.

I had arrived at Heaven on Earth!

The runt of a son

The runt of a son

Some Lessons Never Go Away

I think of those days often. I compare them to today’s world, and the bullying I see, in-person and on the internet, and the counseling and more counseling and more counseling, and the therapy and more therapy and more therapy, and kids driven to suicide over it all, and it puts me in a reflective mood. No, I don’t have any solutions in mind. No, I don’t have any grand statement of truth which will make bullying to away. I’m not even claiming that how we handled, during the 50’s, was the best way of handling it.

I’m just being reflective.

The only thing I know, culled from my early, informative days, is you never give up ground won, and you never allow someone to treat you with disrespect. I believe those words are as valid today as they were sixty years ago. I am a human being. I treat others with respect, and I expect others to do the same with me. If they don’t, there will be a discussion about it.

God, Dad Was a Hardass!

I loved the man dearly. He was probably the greatest influence on my entire life.

But he could be a hardass!

It seemed, at times, impossible to live up to the standards he had set and yet, impossible or not, I have tried all of my life to do just that.

It seems, to me, that living by high standards is not easy. It seems, to me, that living by a code is one hell of a lot harder than living without one. It is much easier to take the path of least resistance. It is much easier to turn our heads and to ignore injustices.

But it is also beneath us, as caring human beings, to do so.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 19, 2021:

Flourish, I laughed out loud at that first one about the cat. Thanks for the belly laugh.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 18, 2021:

Bill - I would love to hear the favorite sayings (or advice) of other readers' parents or grandparents. Three of my favorites:

As busy as a cat trying to cover up sh*t on a cement floor.

Ain't a pot too crooked that there ain't a lid to fit it.

If it was a lie, then you told it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 18, 2021:

Thank you Devika! I believe I am only as sick as my secrets. My childhood molded me and gave me a strong foundation. That is invaluable information.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 17, 2021:

Bill thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I find it a courageous act to write about what affected you in childhood years.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 17, 2021:

Thank you, Vanita, for finding my article and commenting on it. I appreciate your kind words. Blessings to you always.

Vanita Thakkar on May 15, 2021:

I am glad to find your article on my feed to be able to comment.

Your dad was a strong man and he taught you and now, all of us to remain fearless and strong.

Your article also shows the strength of unity. You and friends set an example to deal with bullies.

Enjoyed reading your article - love other articles as well. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2021:

Thank you Nithya! It was tough, at times, growing up and fending off bullies, but I lived through it and learned valuable lessons, so it's all good in the end.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2021:

Hey buddy, good to see you again. I hope this finds you well. Hold 'em until they're ripped from your hands. lol That's what my dad would have advised.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 14, 2021:

I surely do like this one. Hard choices in life - knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold them. Like to reminisce about fighting bullies.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 14, 2021:

Hats off to your father! To live up to the standards set by your father must have been hard, but that must have pushed you to do better than your best. Being bullied must have been terrible, but having friends to form a group and fight against those bullies must have been a great relief. Thank you for sharing your life experiences with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Thank you for sharing your story, Gyanendra! I respect your approach. It has served you well during your life, and you are a man of integrity. Blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Thank you, EK! Yes, there is no doubt, my father was a great man. I wish I had told him that while he was alive.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

My early life was never boring, Linda. lol And I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's. I loved my childhood even though it had some rough spots.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Thank you MG! The old ways were hard, in many aspects, but there was some value in them for those willing to learn.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Misbah, for sure, he was the greatest influence on my life. I am the man I am because of him, and I will always be grateful for his love and guidance. I just wish he had not been taken from me so soon. I would love to talk to him now.

Thank you for your kind words. May your day be filled with blessings and happiness.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

It is indeed how things worked, Flourish. Today, the abuser would pull out a gun and shoot your dad and uncles. Such is the world we now live in.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Brenda, there is no ending bullying. It has always been and always will be. There will always be people who feel they need to torment others, and that's just the real of it, I'm afraid.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Thank you, Devika. I am always proud to be my father's son.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Denise, that is a terribly sad story, but one that was all-too common back in the day. Now kids just go on Instagram or Facebook and demolish each other with cruel words. I don't know which is the worst.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2021:

Marlene, I have always believed that one of the toughest gigs for any child is to be a military kid. Changing schools constantly is just an invitation for the bullies to do their thing. I'm sure glad you survived those years and turned into the person you have become. I happen to think you are pretty special.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 13, 2021:


Thank you. I am fortunate to have guadance from you whose dad possessed a towering personality and character.

I can immdediately understand this article and relate it to my life. Because my dad though my was less than 5fi, he had this character give respect and take respect on 50 -50 basis.

He died with no money no earthly possesson for me. But I have no regret. He has left behind this quality of respecting fellow being as much as they diserve and he could deal well with the bullies. He just walked away without hurting himself.

I do the same. And I feel satisfied.

Thank you.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 12, 2021:

I can tell by your words how impressed you are with your father's personality.

No doubt, he was a great man. Thanks for sharing this fabulous piece of writing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 12, 2021:

Thanks for sharing the information about your father. He sounds like a very interesting man. Your early life sounds interesting, too! I’m glad you found a group of friends and that you were able to support one another.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on May 12, 2021:

Billy, we have lot to learn from our elders. I am glad you brought up this interesting point of your father. It is certainly an inspiration for all who read your article.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on May 12, 2021:

Mr. Bill your father was a really brilliant person and his life story is very interesting and inspiring. I liked you saying that He was the greatest influence on your entire life.

I respect your love for your dad.

Yes we should never allow anyone to bully us and we should not surrender without a fight. These are the qualities that earn respect and love.

So glad to read Great words and works of your great dad.

May His Soul Rest In Peace and May God Grant Him The Best Place In Heaven, Amen !!

Blessings and Peace always

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 12, 2021:

Your dad sounds like a great guy. My grandfather was a scrappy, straight-backed Irishman who wore a fedora and was built in a similar manner as your father. He would never back down from a fight that was necessary for love, honor, or principle. He and my uncles once beat the hell out of my aunt’s horribly abusive husband then threw him out of the house once my aunt had decided she had had enough. That’s how things worked back then.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 12, 2021:


Your dad sounds alot like mine. He would help anyine out but if someone crossed him the wrong way...he was gonna let them know in unspeakable words and then some.

I remember those days where we had to fend for ourselves.

I'm not sure what the answer is for bullying. These days it spreads like a lightning bolt through mobile phones to every kid in the class.

Great memories & pics.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 12, 2021:

Bill It is a way to gain respect but one should also know where they belong. Thank you for sharing about your dad must make you feel proud too.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on May 12, 2021:

I was bullied also, but my girls. I didn't have the training or help to find an answer except to just take it. Girls can be the worst. At 13 the girls stole my towel in the showers and took pictures which they swore would be published in the yearbook. And all because they noticed I had a dimple in my butt cheek. I believed the threat (only to discover months later that there was no film in the camera). If I'd been a weaker girl, I would have committed suicide over it. Instead I got a yearbook at the end of the year and searched ever page for my naked behind. That's the year I learned not to believe everything they tell you. I'm glad you had someone to help you through the bullying.



Marlene Bertrand from USA on May 12, 2021:

Reflections! How do you let reflections of the bad old days keep you motivated? I was a military child. My family moved a lot, consequently, each time I entered a new school, I was "the new kid." And, we all know the new kid is the one who gets picked on until that kid has had enough. Being the new kid, I had no one to rally around me. No one knew me, so no one had the feeling they should protect me.

My brothers taught me how to fight and I do believe I had to fight at every elementary school I entered. My brothers taught me to look unintimidated. Stand confident before each fight. There WILL be a fight because bullies will taunt you until you take steps to stop them. Usually, that happens when you finally stand up to them. And, I remember my brothers telling me that I might lose the fight, but whatever I do, make sure I hurt the bully in some way. Bite them, scratch them, leave some kind of mark of remembrance. That is the only way to end a bullying session/fight. And, however you hurt them, let them know you will do it again, only harder the next time.

"Never let them see you scared!" That was my motto. It is quite similar to your dad's motto about never giving up ground you've won.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 12, 2021:

Thanks bill! Yes, respect is the key for most things I suppose.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Peggy, you are so correct. The internet bullying is vicious, and affects so many these days. There are days I wish the internet had never been invented.

Thank you and Happy Wednesday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Thank you Ann! I am better for it. No permanent injuries. lol And my psyche is better for it as well.

Respect is a tough one to earn, but we must earn it on our own. Respect given in entitlement just won't last, in my humble opinion.

Have a good break from HP, my friend. You will be missed by many of us.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Hats off to my dad for sure, Ravi! It's a tough way to establish respect, but it's necessary sometimes. Thank you for your thoughts.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Pamela, bullying is as old as the Ages, and I doubt it will go anywhere. Unfortunately, today, kids have guns. That's when bullying takes on a whole new aspect, a deadly one. I'm glad I grew up when I did. Bruises are one thing; bullet holes quite another.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Linda, I hated my dad's solution to bullies back then, but it was just what I needed to grow as a man. Thank you for your kind words and love, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2021:

Thanks for stopping by, Bobbi! You and I could have kicked some butt back then. That would have been a fun fight for sure. lol

Have fun shopping!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2021:

My dad was also in Europe during WWII as a paratrooper. He was much like your dad. One of my brothers was small in his classes and finally grew in height after high school. My youngest brother was tall.

Sadly, bullying still takes place today. People have more ways to do it now with the Internet. At least none of us faced that back when we were growing up. It was face to face if done.

The lessons learned from your dad are good ones. We must always stand our ground for what is the right thing to do.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 12, 2021:

Your Dad sounds fantastic! Hard lessons hard won, but you were the better for it, weren't you? Great that you all rallied round against the bullies - that's the only way they would learn.

I wasn't bullied, ever, and I don't remember bullying anyone else. Some of my grandchildren have been bullied but survived and they're fine.

Respect is so important, though many adults don't seem to have learnt that lesson! One can but hope.

Thanks for sharing your valuable past and experience. I think your Dad would've been great to know.


Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on May 12, 2021:

Yes Bill your Dad was right .Never be bullied by a bully and get surrender without a fight. These are the qualities that earn respect for us in the long run. Hats off to your Dad Bill. I also learned something frim him today.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 12, 2021:

Your dad sounds like a good man and very typical of men that served in WWII or probably any war. My husband, who served in Vietnam, is much like that.

I don't remember a lot of bullying when I grew up, but there was some. Once when I was in junior high a group of boys grabbed another boy and pulled his pants off, so it did happen. I felt so sorry for that boy as I was looking out of a second story window in the school when it happened. No one picked on me, but they did my sister just a little bit. My sister is a badass today though.

I enjoyed reading your article, Bill. It made me reflect back on my life too. I guess bullying will be around forever as I don't think we have solved the problem at all. Just think of the gang violence.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 12, 2021:

My dad was the runt of the litter, but that didn't stop him. He and your dad could have been twins (at least in size). Have you ever wondered how you would have turned out if instead of standing your ground your dad had allowed you to let the bullies win? I don't know who you would be today, but you wouldn't be the Bill I've come to know and love.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on May 12, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I would have loved your dad. He was the same size of my Grandfather Knight. My Uncle Brice was a POW in that war.

You needed 'Tom Boy' me. I could beat up any boy in my room--so there was no big boy picking on little ones around me. I was the tallest girl in elementary school and taller than most boys.

Being what you are in growing up I believe has helped to take care of myself as a widow.

Your growing up with a wonderful dad has made you the man who can write any emotion and share with us.

Sorry for talking so much I have to go shopping today so have a great day on HubPages.

Loved the Hub,

Bobbi Purvis

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