The picture shown is worth a thousand words. It shows a British soldier during World War I who was preparing to leave for France and war in the trenches. Note how his son is dressed as closely as he can to the attire of his dad, admiring him and loving him and certainly saddened that his dad is going away for a long time. We don't know whether or not his father returned home safely after the war, but we can be sure that this picture was special to the young fellow as he looked back on his memories of his dad later in life, living or dead.
Fathers are extremely important to the upbringing of a well-rounded child, yet today society in many ways frowns upon that importance. Advertisements and many sitcoms show them as weak, incapable of making leadership decisions for the family, while portraying women generally in a more positive role. And, of course, government policy which has in many ways encouraged sexual activity with no consequence beginning in the teen years has contributed to it. When the state tries to assume the role of the parent, responsibility becomes easier and easier to avoid, and the result is many children with broken homes, no father and sometimes even where a mother only provides the minimum of nurturing required if even that. God expects much more of us than that and thankfully there are millions of good fathers (and mothers) who despite the need to sometimes "swim against the tide" manage to successfully do so.
Last month we honored mothers, the centerpiece of family life. But the role of a father is also critical. Good fathers teach boys how to be men, real men, who are willing to stand for their family while doing so in the tradition of the gentleman. And fathers also provide an example for their daughters of what a man should be like. A good presentation sets in concrete the type of person that a young girl will likely seek eventually in a husband.
Some of us lost our fathers as boys, but the memories up until that point are good ones and help us to focus on the right way to live. Sometimes a mom has been forced to fill both roles and for those who did or are doing so there is a special blessing and honor to them for handling a very tough obligation. But whatever the circumstance, those of us who had at least a partial upbringing from two loving parents, husband and wife, know that they each played a special part, significant and critical in their own way for our development. In a world of such turmoil and strife, we all need every advantage we can get to prepare for what we will face in life.
So on this weekend when we honor fathers, salute them. If they are still with us, visit them if possible and do something special to say thanks. If they are gone, honor their memory. Each of them is one of a kind and that special one is simply known as dad.