Hartselle teen reunites with Korean War vet he met as child
A chance encounter at the Hartselle Veterans Day parade eight years ago has come full circle for a Hartselle teen and a veteran of the Korean War.
Veteran George Griffith said he has always been patriotic. “I know the future of our country lies within these young people,” he said. At the Veterans Day parade in 2012, he asked to take a young man’s photo. This year, they were reacquainted.
The young man was then 6-year-old Griff Knox, who was a Tiger Scout in a local troop. He’s now 14, a freshman at Hartselle High School and pursuing his rank as an Eagle Scout.
“He was smiling from ear to ear, so I just had to take his picture, so I asked him, and he said yes,” Griffith said, reminiscing on the first time the two met.
Every year since, Griffith has posted the photo of Knox on Facebook in search of the young man who made such a profound impact on him. Earlier this year, a mutual friend of Griffith’s and Griff’s mother, Lori, recognized him and put the two in touch.
“Here we are, eight years later, and the story kind of comes full circle,” Lori said. “We talked for a few weeks on Facebook and then set up a time to meet.”
Griff said the afternoon he met the man who took his photo so many years ago, the two talked about life and Griffith’s military history for more than three hours.
“I was very interested in Griff because I love to fish, and I’ve been thinking for all these years that I’d love to take that young man fishing,” Griffith said. “I was afraid he’d moved away. I’m overjoyed to have connected with him again. All of my children and all of my friends are too, and they say ‘I can’t believe it’s really happening.’”
Griff said now, as a teenager, he doesn’t remember posing for the photo in 2012, but he’s glad the meeting could bring so much joy to Griffith.
“I’m just glad I could make somebody’s day,” he said.
Lori added the pair has plans for the future. “We’ve made lifelong friends through this, and we’re thankful to have met Mr. Griffith’s wife Betty, too.”
Griffith served in the U.S. Army from 1954-57 as a cryptographic equipment repairman. “I worked on top secret equipment and held security clearance that was the second highest in the world at the time,” he said. He continued his work in civil service after being honorably discharged in 1957.
“If you ask any veteran out there, most of them will say they would put their life on the line for this country,” he said. “These young people – that’s our future.”