Father's Day is a special day for sure. We are all tuned in to having a father, or at least a father figure to whom we can relate. I have written about my own father in my postings before and have expressed my sentiments for all he did for me. I think, however, that guys like my Dad were a special breed who lived in a special time and answered the call like other generations before them had done to keep the freedom fires burning for their posterity.
The days are being shortened for the men of my Dad's generation; we are losing them far too quickly in this new century and soon their memories will be faded to the point that we will lose that eye-witness account of their world. For those Dads who were born in the 1920's in the Twentieth Century need to be listened to with their thoughts and memories being recorded.
A fellow whose life began in say, 1922 was only seven years old when the stock market crashed in 1929 sending the world in a tail-spin depression that had a devastating effect on their lives. Just think of it, at seven years old this generation of future men would be husbands, fathers and defenders of our nation as they first became a working member of their family to scratch out a living during one of the most hurtful depressions in our history. On their tenth birthday they would be celebrating during the beginning of perhaps full-family unemployment, complete loss of family resources and very little, if any, prospect for future improvement.
Having lived through the dust-blowing depression their eighteenth birthday would be celebrated in 1940 still in depression, but with a looming dark shadow of war about to erupt. On their nineteenth and twentieth birthdays they would be welcomed with the draft or volunteering for duty to serve as fighters in World War II. They would march off to lands across the seas with guns and bayonets and only with the experience of poverty and depression under their belts.
For those who survived and returned some would still not make it to their thirtieth birthday before they returned to a far-away place called Korea to fight another war. The children of depression and young men of war times, this generation of men and fathers really didn't start living their lives until they had reached their thirties.
Once having put the world at peace they set about building their families, neighborhoods and communities. They participated in one of the greatest growth spurts in American history. The Military Industrial Complex with its innovation for advancement in technology and commerce became only a by-product of their efforts. The sweat-equity they poured into their jobs and careers built a foundation of solid economic efforts that allowed a young President in 1963 to declare the presence of a man on the moon by the end of that decade.
They did all of that and even more; they raised children called war-babies and baby boomers. They instilled in those pliable minds the love of freedom and national pride. They established a moral character of "middle-class" America that forged a strong bond with God and Country that was reinforced with the likes of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Clarke Gable, Jimmy Stewart and, yes, even Ronald Reagan.
Working during the week and making family trips to town on the week-ends was a way of life. Eating out was a treat, buying a new or used car was the thrill of life, taking in a ball game and watching the advent of a new thing called television. Watching the first shows that had come from the radio to television like Jack Benny, Red Skelton, George Burns and Gracie Allen and the Ozzie and Harriet show.
Many American Dads during those years participated in family worship on Sundays, ate meals with the family, bought groceries, paid bills, and led the family in ordinary life. Dad, along with Mom, was the leader of the family and children, along with the grandparents sat on the front porch in the cool of the evening to talk while the kids caught lightning bugs, skated on the sidewalks or rode the bikes that Dad had given them for Christmas.
That was the generation of accomplishment. In the span of their lives they sat on buckboards pulled by horse or mule, ate food from an "ice box" cooled with a large block of ice delivered to their homes or picked up at the ice plant in town, drew their own water from a well outside or pumped it from a kitchen sink pump, received telegraphs in emergencies, rode the train, saw the first cars roll off of Ford's assembly line, witnessed the first generation of airplane flights, but still managed to see in their lifetime Neal Armstrong walk on the moon.
Today those folks are in their late eighties and nineties. They have lived a rich, full life of accomplishment that has left us with someplace much better than what they received in their first thirty years of life. My Dad was one of those in that generation and his story deserves to be remembered. Even though there are not near as many of that generation left, if your Dad of that generation remains, the best thing you can give to him and to yourself is to sit down with him on this Father's Day and listen to his story. Write it down, share it with others; remember it, and give it to your own kids.