Sometimes God sends me the thoughts for these pastor’s columns in the strangest ways. He literally sends me a sign – as is the case with this column today.
I was on the way to my office when I pulled up behind a truck stopped at a traffic signal. There was a sign posted on the back window that said, “My hero doesn’t wear a cape. He wears a dog tag – and he is my son.” I thought, Wow! How powerful of a statement is that?”
I immediately began to think about my father, a WW11 veteran and about Father’s Day this Sunday. And the more I thought about it all, the more I realized that God had just given me the thought for today’s column.
The only time heroes wear capes is in the world of make believe. In the real world, heroes like my father, wear anything but capes. And yes, sometimes they even wear dog tags too. He did. He spent four years island hopping in the Pacific Theatre of the war.
And until the last year or two of his life he would hardly speak of the atrocities he encountered. He was a member of The Greatest Generation. He just simply did what had to be done, came home, and got on with his life.
As a Christian and deacon my father was clothed with the whole armor of God. His loins were girt with truth and the breastplate of righteousness covered his chest. His feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. He used the shield of faith, wore the helmet of salvation, and possessed the sword of the Spirit. (Paraphrase of Ephesians 6: 13-17)
Another critical part of his hero’s attire was a golden band he wore on his left ring finger. When he said, “I do” he did – end discussion.
His hero’s attire also contained a belt. A belt that could be unbuckled, dis-looped, and folded all in one fluid smooth motion, ready to be applied to the backside of a rebellious child.
His hero’s attire also consisted of, figuratively speaking, a professor’s mortarboard. Although he only had a sixth grade education, he was the smartest man I have ever known. He could fix anything mechanical and he could even invent and fabricate gadgets to fix something or to make his life easier.
His hero’s attire consisted of a farmer’s outfit. Every year he/we tilled the ground, planted, hoed, fertilized, and worked a garden that fed us during the winter.
His hero’s attire included smiles and laughter. He loved to carry on foolishness.
His hero’s attire also included music. He could literally play any instrument with strings. Many were the nights if you got with a quarter mile of our house you would hear our family pickin’ n’ grinning, just like on Hee-Haw, with him at the center of it all.
His hero’s attire also consisted of things you couldn’t see, like honor and patroism. He loved his country and his word was his bond.
But of all the things that made him my hero, I suppose I have to go all the way back to grammar school for an example to describe it. I remember while attending school that every morning our teacher would call the role. The proper response when your name was called was, “Present” or “Here.”
Of all the roles my father filled in my life, I think the one that made him a real hero was his presence. Every day when the role was taken at our house he simply responded, “Here.” And even as a child I somehow knew that he always would be there – and he was.