Father's Day - Lessons From My Father; A WWII Veteran
A Father's Day Tribute
Father's Day is always a day to reflect on the lessons I've learned from my father. Actually, I think about them quite often, not reserved for one special day. I feel very fortunate in realizing that a great father is a gift, not only to his children, but to his family, his community, and society at large. He is a gift to the world. My father was amazing. When I think about all I have learned from him, I am aware that I am continuing to learn from him, long after he has passed from this life. This article is in tribute to him, to all he represents, to every good father who is doing his very best, and to the young man who one day will be a father.
I will start at the end, as every end is really a new beginning. There is no end to a father's life. They always remain our teacher, leaving us examples of how to live, how to be and sometimes, how not to be.
The day before my father passed away, my mom had asked me to stop by and spend time with him. She had an eye appointment and didn't want him left home alone. We had no indication this would be his last day. I remember sitting with him in their living room and he told me he didn't feel right, that he felt like his mind was slipping away. I was listening to his voice and watching him closely. He then started talking about how much he loved mom, and how hard it was for her with him not feeling well.
He looked at me and said, "I love her as much today as I did when we first met. I loved her the moment we met. Do you think I spoiled her?" I was very touched and swallowed the lump in my throat and answered, "yes, you spoiled her, (pause), but it's o.k., because it's love." I remember reaching over to him and putting my arm softly on his shoulder. Those moments are forever engraved into my heart because I felt the deep love he had for my mom and how they had truly become one. I felt humbled and honored to be part of their love, connected to such unconditional, beautiful, enduring love. These were my last moments alone with my father. Their significance has added immeasurable depth to my life.
LESSON: Love with your whole being, with your heart, soul, mind and strength, always.
The Thin Red Line on Blu-ray
He sacrificed with his time, his finances and resources, in whatever way he found was necessary to help his family, his business, his friends, his community. I believe his greatest sacrifice was his service to our country and world as a member of the military for the United States of America during World War ll. He served in the Army and was on active duty in the South West Pacific Theatre. He had enlisted at the age of 17, a few months before war was declared in December of 1942. He turned 18 in October.
He told us accounts of his time in Australia, the Philippines, Bougainvillea, the Solomon Islands where he fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal. It was never something he just started talking about. He was not a braggart in any way. In fact, I think sometimes it was hard for him to relive the memories. But he was proud that he never lost a man under his leadership. He told stories of moving during the night in total darkness. They couldn't see where they were, but had to crawl on the ground through the jungle. As many men did during this war, he contracted malaria and was treated and cared for in an Australian hospital. He always wanted to go back to Australia and show mom, but they never were able to make that trip.
We know that he received two bronze stars, but when talking with my brother, we only knew a few details about one of the stars. He received one of his Bronze Stars for his bravery and leadership during a battle of which he was chosen to pick out a group of men to take out a significant machine gun bunker. He didn't have to go with them, but he felt he couldn't ask them to go without going himself. They took out one of the bunkers which was key in bringing a close to the Battle of Guadalcanal.
He was overseas for three years, fighting in the most significant war our country has had to fight. He was part of a special generation of men and women who thought nothing less was expected of them than to sacrifice their lives for their country, to fight for life, for people, for future generations. He wasn't home for the birth of his first son and missed the first three years of his life. He wrote letters home each day that he could; this was his lifeline, his hope, but duty was required and he fulfilled his duty very well.
LESSON: Sacrifice is necessary at times, sometimes small, sometimes great. Focus on the greater good, the outcome, the future, and the sacrifice is not only worthy, but essential.
My father was very involved in our lives. When I think of the word, 'commitment' and what it means, it encompasses being true to yourself, honoring something you've said or promised. My father was committed to being a good provider, a good husband and father. He added on to their home when it was no longer big enough for the growing family. Mom was pregnant with me at the time and she also pounded nails and helped to get the job done. He realized a larger home was necessary, not a luxury. He knew that a larger home would be more comfortable for his family. and that he would receive a return on his investment when it was time to sell the house, many years later.
He was active in our extra-curricular activities, sponsoring and coaching Little League teams. He coached both of his sons through Little League and practiced tirelessly. He came to my softball games with mom to support our team, and cheered us on. I also got to practice with him and my younger brother, and this is where I learned, "keep your eye on the ball."
We spent weekend evenings visiting our relatives, BBQ'ing and spending quality, fun time together as a family. We went out to eat almost every Friday or Saturday night to a pizza parlor with entertainment, or an inexpensive family restaurant. We sat down together at the dinner table each evening enjoying a home- cooked meal. Mom made one meal, not different meals for each child. We ate the food prepared for us. Dinner was never served until my dad was home and had at least a half hour to relax before we began eating. The t.v. stayed off and we discussed the day's events. We did not get up until we asked to be excused or were excused. We cleaned up our own area, and I and my sister were on kitchen duty. I do recall wondering if I was always going to be the one washing dishes! Dad felt there was no reason mom should do after dinner clean-up when she prepared the meal each evening.
He had verbally expressed to his children that if we graduated from college, we would receive a new car as a reward for our accomplishments. He kept his word, and I don't know who was more proud the day we walked into a Chevrolet dealership showroom. He let me choose whichever car I wanted, so I walked up to the brand new Monte Carlo on the showroom floor and said, "this is it". We did a little bit of customizing and ordered the car and my dad paid cash! He had made the commitment and the conditions were favorable for him to deliver on his promise. I was one very happy young woman!
Quite honestly, I believe that is how commitments are kept. When we make up our minds that we are committed to something or to someone, we should expect that nothing too insurmountable will hinder us from keeping our commitments. There are many more examples I could site, as being a committed father does not end once the kids are grown and living away from home. There is a more delicate balance in a father's commitment to his adult children, but I have seen from my own experience that it never ends.
LESSON: Commitment gives an individual and a family a strong foundation from which to build integrity into the fabric of one's life. Strong families make strong communities, strong nations, strong civilizations.
Have you heard the phrase, "work smart, worry less" ? I learned and continue to learn this from my father. As an adult, he said to me a few times, "Don't ever worry about what you can't change, only change what you can and accept it". He could say that from experience because there were times when he did worry and it affected his health.
From a young age, I was taught how to work and to take care of my belongings. My room was always clean. He taught me how to mow the lawn and he would stand there and watch to make sure I mowed straight lines, and operated the mower safely. He showed me how to clean the machine after using it. The job wasn't done until everything was clean and put away. If you start a job, finish it. We had a garage where every tool had its place, nails, different sizes and types of screws, garden tools and supplies, and all of his baseball pennants were proudly displayed on the pegboard. It was clean, a source of pride and ownership for him.
He taught me that work is not just your livelihood, it's part of life. It's necessary in every species to work for survival and maintenance, even as recreation. There is a degree of pride in accomplishment. Work smart, learn how to do the job and do it the best you can. And what I learned from him is that sometimes our best can be improved by practice, by learning from someone who knows more about the work involved. There is never shame in losing or failure, only shame if we give up and quit trying. I can hear him saying, "Don't let it knock you down, get in there and start again, think about what you did wrong and don't repeat it."
It takes times to learn how to work smart, but the reward is a job well down and increased productivity, which can result in financial reward. It allows for a satisfaction that comes from working from within, and not just working to get the job done. And lastly, enjoy the fruit of your labor, give yourself time off, take vacations, relax, play, enjoy the pleasure of life.
LESSON: Work smart and bring satisfaction not only to yourself, but the rewards can and will affect others also, perhaps for generations to come.
Teach Your Children Well
All fathers have a unique responsibility in their lives to make amazing contributions to society by teaching their children well. I am eternally thankful to my father for these enduring lessons of unconditional love, sacrifice, commitment and learning how to work smart. These are a few of the important life lessons he taught me and showed me through his example. Whether you are a father or not, I hope you can also learn from these lessons and live a joyful, satisfied life.
Dedicated To My Father and To All Fathers Everywhere - Circle of Life
Additional Word War ll Links
- Thin Red Line Movie Review
War and peace, violence and tranquility, life and death, heaven and hell. The little miracles of life for which we live, the horror and madness of an uncontrollable situation. A war unlike any other, not in...
- Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands : A Tourism, Travel and Information Guide : Basecamp International
Guadalcanal Island is the most well known of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, famous for its pivotal military role in World War II, the battle of Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal is a Basecamp International destination.