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On The Road To Forever

Kilroy was here

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Thomas Bonham is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

June 5, 2013 | 1,899 views | Post a comment

For the World War II generation, this will bring back memories. For you younger folks, it is a bit of trivia that is a part of our American history. This is a story about a guy named Kilroy. You may be familiar with his picture: a fellow with only his fingers, elongated nose, pointed head, and eyes peeking over the top of an imaginary wall with the caption “Kilroy Was Here.” So, who was Kilroy and where did he come from? In 1946, through its radio program, “Speak to America,” the American Transit Association sponsored a nationwide contest to find the real Kilroy. Out of 40 responding men, only James Kilroy of Halifax, Mass., had evidence of his identity. Kilroy was a 46-year-old shipyard worker. Rivets were the mode of ship assembly, not welding, and the riveters were paid by how many rivets they installed in a work-shift period. Kilroy counted and marked each rivet with a semi-waxed lumber chalk so wages could be calculated. The problem was, the riveters removed some of the marks getting groups of rivets counted twice and being paid twice. Once this was discovered and verified, Kilroy started using a waxy chalk to mark his counted rivets, which the riveters couldn’t remove completely. Kilroy started adding his little man peering over the invisible wall just to remind the riveters they were being watched closely and the count was correct because “Kilroy Was Here.” With the war on, the ships were leaving the shipyards without paint and the rivet counting evidence was plain to see. As a result, Kilroy’s inspection “trademark” was seen by thousands of American servicemen who boarded the troopships he worked on. To the troops aboard those ships, however, he was a mystery; all they knew was that somebody named Kilroy had “been there first.” As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they went, claiming it was already there when they arrived. Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always “already been” before everyone else. Throughout the European and Pacific theatres of war, Kilroy was reported as having been there and it is reported that the “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti has been found atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, and even scrawled in the dust of the moon. Really, Buzz?

[Genesis 1: 2-24; John 1: 1-14; Colossians 1: 15-20; 1 Corinthians 15: 20-28] Whoa! That’s a lot of reading there, Tom. Well, it won’t take you long to discover that the one we call Jesus was everywhere way before Kilroy, and Jesus is not a legend. In the beginning, God said, and God said, and God said. At the Word of God, all things were made, as testified to by the books of Genesis and John. “The Word became flesh and made His (Jesus) dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God’s signature is on everything we see and He’s there before we arrive, anywhere we go. In Colossians 1:15 we read Jesus was “... the firstborn over all creation.” You can’t get any more first-er than that! Then in 1 Corinthians 1:20 “... Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (v. 17) “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” [James1:16-18] “... He chose to give us birth through the word of truth (Jesus), that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all He created.” Guess what? You are first in the heart of God! You’re first and probably don’t even realize it. Now that you know, what are you leaving behind to let others know? Are you living a life worthy of being number one? Are you striving to stay number one in God’s heart?

Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at Find his column on his blog at
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