In alternating fashion, this blog usually sounds like an editorial page, in tandem with a series of essays on the historical, religious and philosophical basis of holidays, punctuated with occasional musings on film and television. This post is going to be a bit more personal than the others.
June used to be a month filled with days honoring chivalry, heroism, patriotism, fatherhood and liberation: D-Day, Flag Day, the birthday of the U. S. Army, Fathers’ Day and Juneteenth. Those days are still here, but over the top of them, with much fanfare we have pasted International Oceans Month and National LGBTQ Pride month. We could have put those celebrations in August. June was fine as it was.
But now we’re also watching the implosion of a country that I spent the better part of four years, thinking about, preparing for, deploying to, training in and planning for…. I spent most of 2008 in Basra, Iraq, as a Training Advisor for the 14th Division of the Iraqi Army along with the UK and Australians. And in 2010, I worked in the Victory Base HQ in Baghdad as a member of General Jacoby’s and then General Cone’s plans section. Now, we’re watching Iraq fall apart. Apparently because of the ego of Nuri al Maliki who is beginning this third term as Iraqi Prime Minister. Perhaps if the forming of coalitions after the elections in March of 2010 had left Ayad Allawi’s Sunni/secular party in leadership, competence would have ruled the day and we would all be in a different place now. But Maliki concentrated power in his own hands and those of his cousins and friends, rather those most competent and capable. And now we see an Iraq that doesn’t completely trust its government and Iraqi security forces that are strategically exhausted, surrendering to ISIS / al-Qaeda brutes whom they actually outnumber.
So, that’s casting a shadow over Father’s Day this year.
But let’s take a look back at how I got to that plans shop at Victory Base in Baghdad. I had a father who taught me right from wrong, that duty outweighed pleasure, who took me to church and taught me that prayer was important. I had a father who taught me that I had abilities and reason given by God and it was my responsibility to use that reason to figure out how to apply those abilities making the world a little better. I had a stepfather who taught me discipline and training and that any goal I had would only be accomplished if I broke it down into smaller, sequential pieces and applied effort against those smaller pieces one after the next, for days and weeks and months and years. Both my father and my stepfather taught me to pursue virtue.
So, I’m going to try to ignore the news for a few hours today and show some honor to those men.
And with any grace, my son will be done with a Church project that he’s doing in honor of Our Father in Heaven with enough time for a Skype call.
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I have a great father or stepfather or grandfather… forget the comments, pick up the phone!
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