By Stephen Doherty
“America without her soldiers would be
like God without his angels..” –Claudia Pemberton
**The following is a short excerpt from my book, To Father a Champion. Although it was written years ago, not long after 9-11, I thought it was an appropriate reminder on a Memorial Day weekend dedicated to those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It was the fourth of July and I was gazing fondly at my three-year old son. In one hand, he waved a small American flag. In the other – damp and sticky from his snow cone – he proudly clutched a burning sparkler. It was a beautiful day, fireworks galore, in the company of family and friends. My son’s smile warmed my heart as he soaked up the moment and basked in this glorious day. Times like this give me pause for thanks that I am a free citizen in the greatest nation in the history of the world. But I am also aware of the immense sacrifices made by others to defend these freedoms as well as my obligation to honor and respect this legacy of sacrifice and commitment.
As parents, we have a moral obligation to instill in our children an understanding of American history and their respective role and obligation in maintaining and defending it. They must understand and appreciate the value of these freedoms and liberties and the ultimate costs and sacrifices necessary to maintain it. Today, my son is merely waving his tiny American flag with joy and unbridled delight. Someday soon, he’ll understand what that flag stands for. In a few years, he will humble himself to the sacrifices borne and endured on his behalf to ensure his freedom. I’ll teach him to live his life with the knowledge that he owes a huge debt that he may be called upon to repay someday.
“Champions and heroes are not unique to America..but how we raise them is uniquely American.” –Stephen Doherty
To imagine a world where there was no America is to imagine a world where darkness prevails and evil wins. No rational analysis of history can reach any other conclusion. Unlike most countries, we raise our children with the knowledge – and consent – that our kids may be called upon to defend freedom and combat tyranny in back alleys across the globe. Not out of greed or a zest for Colonial ambitions, but out of a sense of righteousness and moral imperative. This is based on our own belief that man’s natural state is to be free and unencumbered by oppression and cruelty.
The freedom that is ours today is secured by a debt that can never be fully repaid. The best we can do is to honor the memory and history of those who paid it for us. One of my life’s most serene objectives is to impress upon my own kids how this great nation came to be and what might be expected of them to keep it that way. My children, your children, all of America’s children need to be taught that freedom isn’t free! Someday, the bill collector may come knocking at their door.
Inevitably, our kids may be called upon to wear the uniform and serve in combat in defense of their country. God forbid that day should come. If so, I’ll have sent forth responsible and dedicated citizens who will understand why they are going and what’s expected of them. The thought of my kids in harm’s way is too excruciating to consider. But that pain, as it must be, is subordinate to the protection of our nation. Other fathers and mothers sent forth their children with no less pain. My hopes can best be summarized by the words of Thomas Paine. “Lord, if there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my children may live in peace.”
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because
rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Please enjoy this very special video dedicated to the spirit of Memorial Day