It is Father’s Day as I begin my efforts to provide you with something meaningful to read. Yes, I do try to provide meaningful tidbits for you, not always successfully, but I always try. But today my mind wanders to fathers, particularly mine, and their “day”, Father’s Day. Today I got phone calls from both my grown children, wishing me a happy Father’s Day and telling me that I was a good dad, and I thought they were kind to say so without any qualifiers, of which there are unquestionably plenty.
Over the years as my mind would wander to thinking about my own father and our relationship, I have come to realize that, contrary to my youthful perception, my dad was an amazing man, and not just a good dad, but, against all odds, an exemplary dad! Sadly, I was so slow to reach that enlightenment that he was gone before I could tell him.
How can I describe him to you? To begin with, he was a charismatic man. Men really liked him, women were enchanted by him, children respected him, and all sought his attention. He had a wonderful gift of conversation, and was a good listener too. The few letters of his that survive reveal a man who was expressive and comfortable with writing. A kind, mannerly, respectful and educated man, he was also a warrior, fighting his way across Europe as a command officer under General George Patton — “old Blood and Guts” himself. He said of Patton, “He’s a wonderful leader and commander, and under him I’m sure we are going to ‘go places and do things’.” My father revered and was influenced by men of action, conviction and intellect. He named my younger brother “Marshall”, after General George Marshall, who, as Secretary of State, was the author and principal architect of The Marshall Plan, an economic aid plan which revived Western Europe after WW II.
Dad was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star as he fought his way through France and Germany, but in my retrospective ruminations his most heroic action came a few years later when he, a career Army Officer, took on the task of being a single parent to me and my brother, ages 11 and 7. How did a man do that and maintain a viable military career in 1953? It was a surely impossible task, but with the help of family and friends, struggling fiercely against improbable odds, and with more than a few missteps along the way, our dad did it! Sadly, he was taken in the line of duty before I was old enough or wise enough to fully realize and appreciate what a wonderful, fiercely struggling and devotedly loving father I had. I know it now, it’s never really too late to know, and I tell him often that I have come to appreciate what a great father he was and that I appreciate him more with each passing year, especially on Father’s day!
There has been a lot of discussion about code enforcement in Hamilton County and in other counties and cities lately. Some folks worry that code enforcement is an infringement on their property rights, while others feel that the basic premise of code enforcement is not really controversial nor is it something to be feared, it’s just plain old good common sense. As stated by The Florida League of Cities, “The central role of municipal government is to maintain the city as somewhere people want to live and work, and code enforcement is a common tool cities use to uphold community standards and protect property values.” In my opinion you should encourage your representatives to support and uphold reasonable codes and code enforcement. It’s good for you and your neighbor, your town and your county and your future too.
One final warm weather thought! As we move into summer, be aware that Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are near record hot and, along with these rising temperatures, the potential for a surprise hurricane is higher too. Be as prepared as you can be! Most of us know the drill and all the buzz words; board it up, water, batteries, early evacuation, generators, food supply, high ground, etc, etc. We know the things to do, but far too few of us actually do them, which puts us in unnecessary danger and puts a strain on emergency services when they have to save us from our mistakes. Don’t be a sad statistic, be prepared!
Well, once again I’ve said enough but, as always, I do want to remind you that if you have news you want to share, you should let “Life in White Springs” help. We’re always glad to hear about goings on in the community and will be glad to share anything that is appropriate for this column. Just contact Walter McKenzie at email@example.com. I am thankful that we truly are all connected, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.