Saturday, January 17, 2004

Happy Birthday, Dad!

And here he is...

Dad the Grad

Dad was born in New York City on January 17, 1942, but he was in NYC for only about a week before being whisked off to New Jersey, where he lived during his childhood. Dad's 62, former USAF, and exactly the same age as Muhammad Ali. Benjamin Franklin was also born on January 17th, but he's a few years older than Dad. Ben Franklin was a great guy, but he didn't rate "expert" on the M-16/M-203 assault rifle/grenade launcher. Dad spent a good deal of time as an EMT in the Maryland Air National Guard, so he can take you out into the back yard, shoot you full of holes, then patch you up and send you to a nearby hospital, reporting your stats to the ER docs with calm precision.

Dad doesn't walk around with a stethoscope and an M-16/M-203 all day. He retired from the military with the rank of E-8, or Senior Master Sergeant.

Harrison Ford, as it turns out, will also be turning 62 later this year. Unlike my Dad, Harrison Ford got a piercing (in his ear?) to show solidarity with his daughter. Dad doesn't need to get piercings to show solidarity with his family. He will, on occasion, pose for graduation pictures while wearing his son's mortarboard.

If, at some point, Dad ever wants to use this blog space to write that essay, "The Other Side of the Contract," about what it means when you sign up for military service, I'll gladly-- not to mention proudly-- publish the piece here.

I consider both Dad and Mom to be huge influences on my religious pragmatism and idealism. Neither parent cares that much about the details of religion; I tend to think this is important and it informs my own pluralistic instinct: the devil is in the details. At the same time, both parents take the religious life seriously, though in very different and complementary ways.

It's hard to talk about Dad without also talking about Mom, but today's Dad's birthday, so we'll let him have the floor. Mom gets an entry on May 4th. In the meantime, I'll say that Dad's not rich, but his three sons consider themselves richly blessed all the same.

Happy birthday, Dad.



PS: Dad never knew how to cook-- not really cook, anyway. He used to insist he could "burn water." But it was after turning 60 that he began to acquire a new Jedi skill: the making of rum cakes. Want to wish Dad a happy birthday? Go to my sidebar, and hit the PayPal button to order a whole freakin' slew of rum cakes. He and Mom make pretty decent ones. What're you staring at? GO HIT THE FREAKIN' BUTTON!


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