Fathers sometimes get the short end of the stick. After more than a couple of decades where popular culture has often made them look like know-nothing chuckleheads, or an accessory—instead of a necessary part of a child’s life—the image of fathers has taken a beating. That could be partly because of the culture, and partly because of the fact that some people don’t have a positive experience with fathers. Maybe they had one who was absent, either physically or emotionally. After all, most men can father a child but not all men can be a Dad.
Those are the fathers that are celebrated this weekend: the fathers and father figures in our lives, who raised us, guided us and protected us as we grew up.
Marine Captain Jeff Kuss was a father of two young children. He grew up wanting to fly fighter jets and saw his dream come true. He was a member of the Blue Angels, an elite team of Navy and Marine aviators who perform in airshows A couple of weeks ago, while practicing for a Blue Angels performance for an airshow in Tennessee, his jet crashed and Capt. Kuss lost his life. It’s believed that he did not eject himself from the aircraft on purpose in order to save the lives of innocent people on the ground. The area of Smyrna, Tennessee where Capt. Kuss was flying was a heavily-populated area filled with apartments, offices and people who were just there to watch the Blue Angels practice. In staying with his plane, as fighter pilots are trained to do when the possibility of hitting civilians exists, Capt. Kuss died a hero. A dad and a patriot doing what comes naturally to dads—sacrificing and protecting. But most would never call themselves heroes. They’re just doing what good dads do.
Your dad may never have flown a fighter jet. Most likely, he earned his living doing things the world sees as less spectacular and less heroic than a Blue Angel. If your dad was an accountant, a plumber or a farmer, it doesn’t matter. Great dads and heroes can be found in humble places.
My dad wasn’t a pilot, though he did serve his country honorably in the Air Force during the Korean War. But to me and my six brothers and sisters, he was a hero. He worked very hard—at times working multiple jobs—to provide for us. Later in life, once he got his first computer and taught himself to use it, he became a writer. He never would have called himself a writer (I don’t think), but he wrote short opinion pieces to his local newspaper from a conservative viewpoint.
I always told my dad he should start a blog, but he wasn’t interested. So after he passed away in 2012, I wanted to share some of his wisdom from those articles on the Liberty Bell Blog, and a couple of those have been posted here and here over the years. I encourage you to read them because it’s amazing how much he could see of where the country was headed. I have a notebook of my dad’s that he kept near his computer where he wrote down websites and notes on things he was researching. But most of the pages in the notebook are filled with quotes from famous people, mostly of our nation’s Founding Fathers. Here’s one from Samuel Adams that he must have found important at the time, and I think speaks volumes about where we are now: “The general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.”
Dad’s notebook isn’t much to look at—it’s really only a part of a notebook that doesn’t even have the front cover on it, and slips of paper with other random notes falling out of it. It could have easily been thrown away as a list of websites that may or may not still exist. To me it’s priceless. What makes it valuable is what’s inside, because it has things written in Dad’s own hand that were important to him: his notes for his articles, websites he used for his research and ones he just liked to visit regularly…and the quotes. Wisdom from the Founding Fathers that my father found noteworthy. That reminds me of a t-shirt that he used to wear that had one of his favorite quotes on it from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 10:2: “A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.” Sounds like a conservative blogger to me.
I keep that t-shirt and the unassuming, partial notebook written by my hero who’s now in heaven… but I would have kept it even if it had only been a list of websites that may or may not still exist.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!