Friday, June 13, 2008

Flags & Fathers

This weekend, we celebrate both Flag Day and Father’s Day. It doesn’t seem like flags and fathers would really have any real connection, but they do. They’re connected because they deserve our celebration; our honoring of what they are and what they represent. Our flag is the very recognizable and internationally known symbol of our country. In honoring our flag, we recognize and honor our love of Nation, of freedom, and of home. Like our Nation, our fathers are our bedrock. They lead us, guide us, and protect us. Both our flag and our fathers deserve our respect.

My dad served in the Air Force for 20 years. He enlisted after high school. As he tells the story, his uncle (who had flown bombers over Europe during WWII) saw him struggling with the whole “what do I want to do with my life” question after he graduated high school and marched him down to the Air Force recruiting office. Thank God for perceptive uncles! Anyway, my dad enlisted in the Air Force, then met and married my mom. After a couple of promotions, the Air Force decided they needed more officers from within the ranks and sent my dad, along with a few others, to Officer Candidate School. Now under this program, you didn’t need a college degree and my dad didn’t have one. But he was smart and a leader, so the Air Force got one right and sent him to get a commission. My dad eventually retired as a Major, after serving 3 tours in Vietnam.

I love my dad, and I know he loves me. Although I can count on one hand the number of times he’s said the words, “I love you, sis” he’s told me how much he loves me in so many different ways. When I was growing up, I remember my dad laughing a lot. He liked to joke around with friends. He started eating peanut butter and jelly on hamburgers on a dare and kept it up for the next 15 years; just because he liked it. My dad’s lucky and has a knack for video poker (just ask the casino manager who had to pay two jackpots from two different machines within 10 minutes of each other). He can beat just about anyone, except maybe my spouse, at cribbage; and in his younger days was one of the best fast-pitch softball pitchers around. He loves golf (as long as he's keeping score), baseball, military history, and his grand- and great-grandkids. My dad’s quite a guy!

When I retired I wanted to honor my father for his service and to show him how his example of service lives on in all my children, whether they've chosen military service or not. The best way to do that was with a ceremony honoring the flag. It was the highlight of my retirement program. I was able to present my dad, my uncle, my husband, and my serving children, with the symbol of this Nation I love so much. I was lucky that, in a small way, I was able to honor both my dad and my flag. Take this weekend to honor our flag on Flag Day and your father on Father’s Day. Both are worth our respect.

2 comments:

Aunty 2 said...

Sis, you have described our Dad perfectly, there is not much more I can add to this, it made me so grateful we had a father like ours. He is one of a kind! I am so grateful that I am part of this family. Sometimes I feel that I missed out greatly by not following the example of our father and choosing the military way of life. However, I guess there is something to be said for those of us who didn't take the opportunity to serve and very vocally "Support the Troops from the Sidelines". I am, and have always been, proud to say I am a Air Force Brat. Thanks Family for serving for those of us who stayed at home and prayed for you and our country.

lela said...

"Aunty 2," believe me your vocal support from the sidelines was, and is, appreciated. Glad you thought I captured our dad. I wanted to talk about other things, like jalapeno peppers on his spaghetti and pulling me over with his police car when I was riding my 10-speed bike down the road (laughing the whole time); but I didn't want the post to get too long (or too sappy). We are extremely lucky in our parents! Love you too, sis!