What's in a name?
For the September issue of Rochester Magazine, we asked that question. Sort of. We actually asked, for our Six Words (or Less) column: "What's the Story Behind Your Name?"
We got all kinds of answers on our Facebook page — and, in fact, are still getting them. It turns out that our reader's names come from all sorts of interesting sources.
Like this one from a reader named Jodie: "Week old. Not named. Doctor’s suggestion."
And this one from Dan: "Elton John Song."
And this one from Joy: "Miracle baby after failed in vitro."
I didn't include the story of my name in this issue, but if I did, my six words would've read: "Most popular baby name in 1971." Which is why I'm rarely, if ever, the only Jennifer in a room filled with my contemporaries.
I did once know a woman named Teka, whose parents got more creative with her name than mine did. They borrowed the first letter from each of her grandparents' names — Ted, Elizabeth, Katherine and Andy — to create hers.
I always thought that was cool. But if we'd done that with our kids, we would've had to name them WJMP or PWMJ. And that's a pretty big burden for any child.
Anyway, last week, Rochester Magazine received an email from one of my favorite Rochesterites, Jerry Williams. He happened to pick up the September issue of the magazine on his birthday. And what better time is there, really, to share the story of one's naming?
He wrote: "… The story behind my name was being played out exactly 77 years ago today, when I was born. On this date in 1943, the person I was named after was my uncle and my father's brother, Jerry Williams. He was, at that time, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in England and in training for what became June 6, 1944 — D-day.
"Although I don't know yet which wave he was in for the invasion of France, I do know that he landed and subsequently marched through France and entered Germany. I'm now in the process of trying to discover the name of his unit and, hopefully, his exact route through the European theatre.
"He returned from the war and lived into the early 1990s. My regret is that I didn't find out more about his service prior to his passing. I am though very proud and honored to carry his name.
"After I retired from the school district, I had the honor of being part of five Honor Flights of WWII Veterans to Washington, DC where they visited the WWII Memorial, plus the Korean and Vietnam memorials. On each trip and because he never was able to visit 'his' memorial, I had a button made of (his) picture so that he, too, could make that trip and see how in one way this country honored him and the millions of others who were part of that world-wide conflict."
Jerry added that he's not sure how he would've condensed his story into six words, but that "My hero in World War II" might have done the trick.
A hero, indeed. And a good story at any length.
Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.