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!
**In this month where we celebrate freedom and independence, many Americans are feeling less free in their everyday lives. A recent Gallop poll found 79 percent of Americans were satisfied with their level of freedom. That was down 12 points from 2006. It’s clear something is very wrong with our perceptions of freedom and liberty. The following is an editorial my father wrote to his local newspaper, The Batavia (NY) Daily News. He wrote this prior to 2009, and it seems even more applicable now.
There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-two of them were orthodox, deeply-committed Christians; the other four all believed in the Bible as the Divine Truth. These brave patriots put up their money, property and lives to build this new nation. They were hunted like wild animals; their homes were burned; their property confiscated; their families had to go into hiding and were mistreated if found. If caught, they would hang. Most were homeless, in very poor health and broke by the end of the war. These great patriots were statesmen, not merely politicians. I wonder how our ten percent [approval rating] Congress would act under similar events.
We are losing our freedoms every day. While Americans sleep, [they] wake up long enough to vote these same jokers back into office. From here, some of the worst are appointed to cabinet positions—that is like having the inmates run the asylum. For the readers over 50 [or 55 now], the ones who should remember when we were a God-fearing nation, everything was going our way. We became a great and powerful nation. People from around the world came seeking religious freedom and a better life.
Then in the sixties, we started down the slippery slope to where we are now. In 1962, the Supreme Court restricted prayer in public schools; in 1973 the court found that the so-called “right to privacy” includes unrestricted access to abortion. In 1985 the court overturned a state law setting aside a moment of silence for voluntary prayer in public schools. In 2000, the court overruled a Texas law allowing high school students to pray at athletic events. In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion because it contains the words “under God”. In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the display of the Ten Commandments in a state courthouse was unconstitutional.
These decisions by a handful of unelected, imperious Justices are determined to control more and more of our private lives, erase our spiritual heritage and forever redefine us as a nation. The Constitution charges Congress with the responsibility to check the Federal Courts; they have totally abdicated that duty. Nationwide, we have high courts—an unaccountable arrogant judiciary appointed for life–determined to make us dance to their music.
P.S. : “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fall, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”—U.S. Sen. Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
Tomorrow we’ll celebrate the 237th birthday of our great nation—our independence from the oppressive rule of a tyrannical king in England. A certain former Speaker of the House of Representatives that will remain nameless due to the celebration of the day thinks we should be thankful for “healthcare freedom”, in the form of Obamacare of course. Apparently, in her world, the Founders would have loved the massive government takeover of a large segment of our economy.
But for normal, thinking Americans, this is our opportunity to thank God for this place called the United States of America. To thank Him for all He did in raising up the right people at the right points in history that allowed this nation to become the most powerful one on the face of the earth in such a relatively short period of time. To thank Him for people willing to sacrifice all they had to build this nation, and for those who have died and are continuing to die to secure freedom for future generations.
Unfortunately, many, if not most people won’t think about those generations of patriots as they celebrate what’s now only known as “The Fourth”. In between their picnics, parades and fireworks displays, it would be great if all of us would take the time to read the Declaration of Independence—especially those who have children. Do they— do we really understand what it meant when those 56 men put their signatures to that document? As British subjects, they were committing treason. They were setting themselves—and their loved ones—up for certain hardship and possibly death. It’s important that we not forget this and that the youngest among us hear the stories of these people that they are likely being denied in the public schools of today.
What America needs is another “Greatest Generation”. Those under 30 would do well to become like King Josiah in the Old Testament. He was very young when he became the king of Judah and it was during his reign that the Book of the Law had been found after many generations of being “lost to history” so to speak. The people weren’t living according to the laws of God and weren’t behaving as if they were his Chosen People. When King Josiah heard the words of the law for the first time, he became very distraught to the point that he tore his robes because he realized how far they had drifted from God and what His intentions were for their nation. Many people then were probably young, as he was, and didn’t even realize what they were doing.
It’s possible that if enough young people hear the words of the Founding Fathers—and I’d even go as far back as the pre-founding generation (the Pilgrims)***—they might realize and be humbled at what it took to build the nation. They could be the ones to turn things around again. Maybe, like King Josiah hearing the words of The Law, they’ll be moved to tears when they read these words: “…with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They’ve had their heritage stripped from them, and many aren’t even aware of it. If or when they ever do look up from their ipads, iphones and video games to realize it, they may be pretty upset at the generations before them for keeping them in the dark. For keeping them entertained and un-enlightened.
They need to know that the United States of America is still the last best hope for freedom for people from all over the world, even in our current circumstances, which admittedly aren’t good. It would do us all good to keep in mind the words of people like Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian evangelical minister and author who spent 14years in a Romanian prison for his faith. In 1967, he called America the hope of every enslaved man, and reminded Americans of a truth that may be even truer now: that freedom-loving people all over the world are counting on us not to let the flame of liberty burn out. Wurmbrand said: “I have seen fellow prisoners in communist prisons beaten, tortured, with 50 pounds of chains on their legs—praying for America…that the dike will not crumble; that it will remain free.”
With that said, Happy Independence Day!