I had the good fortune to have my Dad around me throughout my entire young life and even into adulthood. When he passed away all of my kids had already been born, so he was able to see and know his grand children. That was also true with my brother and sisters; they had all grown up and had children of their own and Dad was able to see and know them all.
I write that because I believe that is a blessing that many people are not given. It was a blessing for him to live long enough to see his family flourish; it was a blessing for us because we were able to learn valuable lessons of life just from being around him. His was a generation that seems decidedly different from the upcoming generation. There was glitziness in his generation, of course, but I am not so sure it was as magnified and self-centered as much as it seems to be today.
Having lived through the "great depression" identified with the crash of the stock market in 1929, Dad knew what it meant to "live by the sweat of his brow" and work long, hard hours to provide for himself and his family. His generation had been dealt a hand that really held no personal, individual power that would result in vast winnings. His world was changing fast through the industrial revolution, horseless buggy, flight through the air, electricity, automation, explosion of energy through oil and the beginning of modernization. Radio had come into its own, communication had shrunk the world in a way that gave him more information more quickly than his Dad had enjoyed. But just as he and millions of other Dads across the country had managed to stand ready to take a toddling step, tragedy struck at Pearl Harbor.
Uncle Sam made the call and tens of thousands of men just like my Dad ran to get the job done that needed to be done. Later in our history, this generation was to be called, "The Greatest Generation." I think those "knock-out" years that leathered the skins of those men having survived the depression and the World War created within them a sense of responsibility that had its foundation firmly planted on honor, character, morality, solidarity of trust and a sense of passing those values on to their children. That is what I witnessed growing up under his tutelage.
We were poor, but my Dad worked every day. His consistency was rock-solid, always working, doing the job he had been trained to do and sticking with it to complete a "career." From my earliest age I can remember being taught the value of work. His advice: "Do not do just what is expected by your boss, do much more than that and exceed your boss's expectation." He thought that was the code to live and work by and it would always make things better than what you expected. I believe it was good advice.
Values that focused on family, spiritual matters, hard work, telling the truth, holding fast to the principle of your word being your bond, trusting in others to keep their word and helping others who had needs were presented every day. I remember going with my brother and sisters door-to-door collecting small bits of change from people for the "Milk and Ice" fund. We would turn the money into those in charge to buy those commodities for poor people. Dad and Mom always led the way to worship on Sunday morning (and in those days Sunday and Wednesday nights too), never just sending us kids to Sunday School by dropping us off at the door.
My Dad was an average guy, worked all his life, lived through the depression of the 1930's, fought in the World War II, raised a family, took care of his elderly parents when the time came, and lived to see his grandchildren. He never received any awards that I know of, he was never on television, he never wrote a book, he was never elected to a high office, he never made enough money to be termed as "wealthy" and he is not now mentioned in any history books. All in all however, his was a life that showed humility, character, a sense of justice, a positive regard for his neighbors, and a quiet determination to make things better for his family and his fellow men. I believe his is a life deserving of honor, and I do.