You've been gone almost 24 years, but I've been thinking about you quite a bit lately. I miss you, Dad, more than I can express.
It took me longer than it should've to realize the value you added to my life. I never thought you or Mom were stupid, I have to say. However, I did think you were pretty old-fashioned, out of touch, and stuck in outmoded thinking. Now I realize the things you wanted us to remember were not situational. You wanted us to live them.
The older I get, the more I wish you were around to advise me now. But you did teach me the value of keeping my word, of being truthful, of (as trite as it seems) not judging a book by its cover. Though you yourself were soft-spoken and quiet, you taught me how to speak up. To stand up for what I believe. You showed me that seeing moral shades of gray isn't necessarily good. Right and wrong are either black or white. No grays — regardless of what others think.
Dad, I've been wondering what you'd think of everything that's happened between the first officially proclaimed Father's Day you experienced and tomorrow's. I know you'd be amazed and possibly delighted. But I suspect you'd also be somewhat appalled and ashamed. And you might even be a bit outraged or saddened. Here're just a few developments you have missed:
- Our 42nd president was impeached, for perjury and obstruction of justice.
- Rabid muslim terrorists killed roughly 3,000 individuals in 2001 by crashing four passenger planes. Two into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City; one into the Pentagon; and one into a rural area in Pennsylvania thought headed to the White House or U.S. Capitol.
- The U.S. invaded Afghanistan and stayed there more than 10 years.
- We later invaded Iraq to depose a ruthless and bloody dictator who'd allegedly developed poison gas and other outlawed weapons. None were found, but years later evidence of them was.
- Americans elected their first minority president in 2008, which bodes well for society as a whole. Since then, the country is possibly the most polarized it's been since the War Between the States.
- The Nobel Prize Committee immediately awarded our new president a Nobel Prize, although no one could figure out why — not even him.
- The U.S. news media for the most part has ceased being the public's watchdog and has become the government's propaganda arm.
- The Democratic Party shoved though Congress a 20,000-page-plus socialized medicine law early in the new president's first term. Two points amazed me:
- The sitting Speaker told Democrats in the House they needed to pass it, then they could see what's in it.
- The measure passed without a single GOP vote.
- Your party, the GOP, has gotten control of both Houses of Congress, but is doing little to improve the country. Partisan politics is seeping into every aspect of American society.
- It seems we are being governed by whomever yells the loudest; not necessarily the majority.
- Spearheaded by the entertainment industry, morality and civility have slipped to new lows. Even an ex-sailor like you, Dad, would be flabbergasted by the language many use in public today. And business uses sex to sell anything.
- On the positive side, everyone seems to have cell phones, which we may use to keep in constant touch with others. Negatively, however, no one seems to use them courteously.
- Also, those desktop computers that were taking off when you left have permeated society. The average American has at his fingertips information on probably every subject that exists.
- The Internet has connected the whole world, and it's a mixed blessing. For the entrepreneurial, it offers a world of potential customers. For the "bent," it offers a world of perversion. I tend to view it as perhaps the greatest development in the history of mankind.
- Some trains in Europe and Asia can move people at close to 200 mph, using magnets and ceramic superconductors that offer no resistance to current. Who knows where that could lead?
- Homosexuality is becoming an accepted norm, even to the point of attempts to redefine "marriage."
- A former Olympic decathlon champion recently decided to have himself altered to become a woman. He has been hailed as "courageous" and a "hero."
- Real heroes, your generation, are being honored, finally, for service to our nation. I wish you were here to experience one the "Honor Flights" WWII vets are being given. It would move you.
The Wife and I are both retired and muddling along fine. Each day is a blessing and a new adventure. It's fun to get up in the morning (but as I told someone yesterday, getting up's easy. Getting off the floor after that, is the problem.) You may be proud of your grandkids, too. They've both found love and are making their ways through life in honorable and loving fashion. Plus, your great-granddaughter is a living doll (Yeah, I know. I'm biased. But you'd worry if I wasn't, wouldn't you?)
The Wife and I are still in love and with the Good Lord's help, we'll continue to be so until we see you and Mom again. So, thanks for the beliefs and values you instilled in me — and all the unconditional love you gave.
I could go on, Dad, but I don't want to leave you thinking I despair. I don't. I'm optimistic. This 21st century may be the greatest era in our total history. It's up to us. Even with all the warts I see in our country, I'm still confident this is the best place to be on earth. I thank the Lord every day I'm here. I'm confident the U.S. will remain great and get even better. All it takes is for us to put someone other than ourselves first. And when that happens, and it will eventually, well...
Maybe I'll just dance....