D-Day, also called the Battle of Normandy, was fought on June 6, 1944, between the Allied nations and German forces occupying Western Europe. To this day, 70 years later, it still remains the largest seaborne invasion in history. Almost three million troops crossed the English Channel from England to Normandy to be used as human cannon fodder in an invasion of occupied France.
Among the young men who stepped off those boats, in a hail of gunfire, was a fellow named Edward, whom everyone called Ned, from the small town of Helena, Arkansas. Already in his young life, Ned had been forced to drop out of school in the sixth grade, in order to work at the local movie theatre to help support his mother, brother, and sister, faced with the ravages of the Great Depression.
He later went on to help build the US Highway 49 Helena Bridge across the Mississippi River.
He was a gentle man who loved to laugh and sing, having recorded several 78 rpm records in the do-it-yourself booths of the day. And now, he found himself, a Master Sergeant in an Army Engineering Unit, stepping off a boat into the unknown, watching his comrades being mercilessly gunned down around him.
Ned, along with the rest of his unit who survived the initial assault, would go on to assist in the cleaning out of the Concentration Camps, bearing witness to man’s inhumanity to man.
The horrors he saw had a profound effect on Ned. One which he would keep to himself for the remainder of his life. While his children knew that he served with an Engineering Unit in World War II, they did not know the full extent of his service, until they found his medal, honoring his participation in the Invasion of Normandy, going through his belongings, after he passed away on December 29, 1997.
He was my Daddy.
Today, all across the world, Fathers will be honored by their children, natural, adopted, foster, and those that they took in as one of their own.
Did you ever wonder how this Global Remembrance got started?
There are two stories which are attributed as being the origin of Father’s Day.
According to the first tale, it all began in 1910, when Sonora Smart-Dodd of Spokane, Washington, tried to figure out a way in which to honor her dad, a remarkable man, who had single-handedly raised six children. Sonora, naturally, loved her dad with all her heart, and wanted everyone to recognize him for what he had done for her entire family. She made the decision to declare day of tribute, a Father’s Day, if you will, on her father’s birthday – June 19.
The next year, Sonora contacted the local churches in an attempt to get them to throw their support behind the celebration, but they simply laughed her off. After that setback, it took a while before Sonora’s proposal once again started gaining attention.
A bill in support of a national remembrance of Father’s Day was introduced in 1913. The bill was approved by US President Woodrow Wilson three years later. The bill received further support from President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.
This brought about the formation of a National Father’s Day Committee in New York within the next two years. However, our Federal Government, not exactly being strong in the pursuit alacrity, took another 30 years before a Joint Resolution of Congress officially recognized Father’s Day. Then, implementation of the bill was postponed another 16 years until President Richard Nixon declared third Sunday of June as Father’s Day in 1972.
The second story of the origin of Father’s Day involves Dr. Robert Webb of West Virginia. According to this version, the first Father’s Day service was conducted by Webb at the Central Church of Fairmont in 1908.
Around my house, we always thought that Hallmark and Walmart invented it.
Like you other fathers out there, I was asked what I want for my Father’s Day Gift, today.
The one present I want…I can’t have.
I wish that I had one more day with my Daddy.
My Daddy was the most important man in my life, and remains so to this day.
He taught me how to love others, through his actions, every day of his life. He was a wonderful Christian man, who led me to Christ.
He was also the bravest man I have ever known, landing at Normandy Beach on D-Day.
My Daddy worked hard all of his life. He worked for Sears for 20 years. He taught me what hard work was, and yet, he always had time for me.
I wish that I had one more day to walk through Court Square Park in Memphis, Tennessee feeding the pigeons and the squirrels with my Daddy.
I wish that I had another opportunity to sit on the living room floor at Christmas and play Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots with him.
I wish that I had another chance to stand over to the side on Thanksgiving Afternoon and watch him, as he played Penny-ante Poker, “cutting up” with my mother and my aunts and uncles.
I wish that I could hear him singing “The Old Rugged Cross” in the kitchen again, with his beautiful tenor voice.
I wish that I could watch him again, sitting at the breakfast table simultaneously looking through his old Cokesbury Hymnbook and his Book on Hymnology, researching those great old hymns and making notes, so that he could tell his 150 member Sunday School Class about the hymn, which he was going to lead them in singing that Sunday Morning.
I wish that I could watch my Daddy playing with my little daughter again, sticking out the lower plate of his dentures, as she tried to grab it.
I wish that I could see them again out in the driveway, sitting in his 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, with her in the driver’s seat, as they waited for the school bus to pick her up for pre-school.
I wish that I could spend another Christmas Morning with him, to watch the fun, as he gave my sister her yearly “gag gift”, just to watch her jump and squeal as the “snake” or “mouse” jumped out of the box.
I wish that I could sit and watch Saturday Morning Memphis Wrestling and then, another Johnny Weissmuller “Tarzan” movie with him on a Saturday afternoon…or, maybe a Three Stooges Short, just to hear him laugh.
It’s funny, y’know.
I look in the mirror at 57 years old…and, I see him.
I look back over the years at the things that I did with the children that God brought into my life to care for, and then, I see the things that I’m doing now with my 8-year-old grandson, and I see my Daddy in myself.
Right now, in America, it is harder than ever to be a Dad. Any male, who is not impotent, can sire a child…as is being proven daily across our country.
However, it takes a man to be a Daddy, a Papa, a Pop, a Pops, somebody’s Old Man, or, simply, a Father.
I’ve had the privilege of having a hand in raising three step-sons, one nephew, and one very special daughter. I would not give back one moment of those experiences for anything that this world can offer.
I was not a perfect role model. I made mistakes…a lot of them. But, looking back, I know, in my heart, that I’ve made a difference in their lives. And, I thank the One Who Made Me for that opportunity.
I pray that I was able to pass along at least some of my Daddy’s Legacy of Christian Love to those I have had a hand in raising.
Dads…it costs nothing to pay attention….and give love.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Daddy, I wish you were here so I could tell you how much I love you and miss you.
I hope you’re proud of me.
Every good thing that I am, came from the life lessons which I learned from you, and the Love and Amazing Grace of my Heavenly Father.
Today, while you’re up in Heaven, I hope you hug Mother and tell her,
That’s “Baby Brother”!
I love you very much, Daddy.
Happy Fathers Day.
Until He Comes,