The military father. It is a challenging role, and a daunting responsibility. These great Americans struggle to balance the calling of their country with the calling of their families. They rise before dawn to join their units for physical training. They return well into the evening when the day’s tasks are completed. They have little control over their day. Their time is unpredictable. They are routinely called to distant locations to train or to fight. One of the first sentences uttered by military children is often, “Goodbye Daddy.” Their wives realize, but choose not to think about, the possibility that each goodbye could indeed be the final one. The wives and children all know that when their husband or father joined the military, he wrote a blank check to the United States. Instead of a dollar amount, however, he wrote the words, “my life.” In his heart, he hopes the nation will never have to cash it.
The military father will take his family all over the world and nation. When he reports, his family reports. Sometimes, though, he must leave without them. Long durations apart are endured. Birthdays, anniversaries, even the birth of children, are frequently missed. He endures stifling heat, frigid cold, and the dangers of war so that he can offer his family the ultimate gift, the enduring gift of liberty. Through all this, the military father strives to maintain his family unity, and the best of those fathers make the most of the times that they have together.
The military father gives his family more than just love, though. He exemplifies those enduring values of faith, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. He leaves a lasting legacy for his children to emulate. When my daughter got married, she requested that I wear my military dress uniform when I gave her away. When I asked her why, she said that she wanted everyone there to know from where she derived her morals, character and values. These things, I was reminded that day, are caught not taught.
All that said, in the end, military fathers share many attributes with their civilian counterparts. They love their wives and children, and want nothing but the best for them. They are prepared to protect their families whatever the cost. They desire that their children grow up in a free nation, so that they make the most of their liberty. They also want their family to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10).
To all military fathers, I give you this set of orders as issued by the Apostle Paul:
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
(1 Corinthians 16:13)
Thank you for your service, both to our nation, and to your families.
CH (COL-ret), USA