Gift From My Father

Life Lessons on respect, dignity and change

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June is the month that many people celebrate their fathers. It is also the month that my father was born so I think of him, his great impact on my life and the lessons he taught me. I value those lessons in this world filled with turmoil. 

     My dad was born in the 1920’s in the rural south. He had very limited educational opportunities as segregation was the law of the land and there wasn’t a school close to him. His formal education ended in middle school but he worked hard at odd jobs until the U.S., under the leadership of Harry Truman, drafted him to fight in the Korean War. He did what he considered his civic duty and fought for his country. He returned home after successfully leading his platoon and bringing them all home safely with Dwight Eisenhower as the new president. 

     I know from my dad’s many stories that he can home from Korea  very disillusioned by the country he called home. He fought for his country but he would never experience his country fight for him. He served under two presidents but returned to a place that didn’t want him to vote for who the next president would be. He put his life on the line for people that relegated him to the back of every line for most of the remainder of his life; people that would deny a decorated soldier a seat on the front of a bus, a meal sitting in a restaurant, access to good schools for his children or even a home in a community where he wanted to raise his family. 

     What made my father so special was, with all of the indignities that he suffered, he remained the most kindhearted person that I will ever know. Not once did he raise a hand or even his voice in the presence of his family. He taught us to be kind, tolerant and forgiving. The most important thing he conveyed to us was that we should be respectful of every human and even if we could not find a reason to respect someone, we could still treat them with the dignity that was not afforded to him. He knew how it felt to be disregarded as a man and he never wanted that for anyone else. 

     Unfortunately, my father passed away the year before Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president. I wish he had been able to see a Black man lead this country, the same country that showed him so much contempt. He would have been in awe of the magnitude of the current protests and he would have had renewed hope to see people of every nationality around the world stand together to say his life mattered. 

     While my dad’s light has been extinguished, he left it burning brightly in me and I want to pass it on to my children and grandchildren. 

Because music plays such an important part in our lives, I want to share a video created by Ronn David McPhatter that eloquently highlights the fact that there are still those that would deny the world needs change but, more importantly, that change is happening. 

#weeklyprompt #bethechange #passthelight #hope #theirlivesmatter 

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