Father’s Day 2013
The longer I’m alive, the more I appreciate (and understand) my dad. In my earlier years his directives to me weren’t always accompanied by the justifications to which all adolescents feel entitled – thank God. The youthful are unwittingly afflicted by a dearth of perspective about life’s realities, a deficiency we all live to regret as our poor choices and lapses of judgment accumulate like scrap iron in a junkyard. They were easy to come by in a moment of time, but darn hard to be rid of, serving as enduring, rusty monuments to our youthful indiscretion.
The antidote, of course, is Dad. I have my share of these remnants of what Pink Floyd would refer to as “a momentary lapse of reason”, but thanks to my dad that collection of lasting embarrassments is much smaller and less profound than it could have been. Had I heeded him even more, the list would be even shorter and less painful. So in honor of my Dad (and yours) I thought I would devote my column this week to Father’s Day.
Dad instilled in me from the earliest age a generous respect for my elders, women and for all others. Underpinning all of this was an inherent respect for myself, and God, to whom I’m totally accountable. Humility and mutual respect are the foundations of all meaningful human interaction. The loss of this incalculably valuable principle is currently one of our nation’s greatest downfalls, with the evidence all around us.
Dad also taught me about patriotism and honor. He was unabashedly overt in expressing his appreciation for public servants like local fire, police and town officials. This also applied to those in military service. They in turn respected him and welcomed him into their company, where he had the opportunity to sow the seeds of influence for Christian principles.
As a very small boy, I remember Dad taking me to a homecoming rally in honor of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut in space and a native of nearby Derry, NH. On the July Thursday afternoon that Apollo 11 splashed down successfully into the Pacific Ocean, Dad went next door to the church he pastored and rang the bell in honor of that historic American accomplishment.
We never missed a parade on Memorial Day, Independence Day nor Veterans Day, and the American flag flew from the front entrance on each – without fail. Dad taught me the importance of paying homage to those who have earned it. The lessons I learned from him about civic responsibility are the embers that fuel the fire from which I write for this website.
My father inculcated in me the virtues of hard work, study and planning. There’s an inherent self-reward woven into the fiber of a good day’s work, whether for pay or not. That feeling of accomplishment seeps into the psyche, reinforcing to a man his worth and mettle. In 51 years of living, I have found no substitute for it anywhere. Here’s one example.