Rising early to prepare breakfast and watch dad open his cards, most children will be celebrating Father’s Day with the man who has cared for and protected them their entire life. For many of the 20,000 children across the country who lost a parent in the armed forces, however, Father’s Day is a time to honor a man who died protecting something even greater: our freedom.

Honoring Fallen Military on Father's Day

Nick Goc is just one of those 20,000, whose father, Air Force Major Zenon Goc died when his son was only six years old.  That was 22 years ago, and since then, Father’s Day has become a time of reflection and gratitude for those who have bridged the gaps left by his father’s sacrifice, including the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots).

Goc wrote a letter in honor of Father’s Day that captures both the pain and pride he experienced as the child of a fallen patriot. Though confronted with many obstacles as a result of his father’s death, Goc shared how he reached his goals with the help of a strong military community and the counseling and resources of the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.

Read Goc’s own words on what Father’s Day is like for the child of a fallen patriot.

 

Dear Dad,

You have not been physically here with me since I was six years old.  I am writing to you because I believe you have always been with me, or have at least watched over me since before I was born.  At first when I learned of your death, I was angry, sad, and hopeless.  However as time went on and I grieved, I started to see the blessings you left for us all.  Without your sacrifice, I would not have my two younger brothers, who I love with all of my heart and consider my closest friends.  I also would not have learned how to help mom so well because you would be taking care of her.  Our small family became closer after your death because we had to struggle, and it made us all stronger people and a stronger unit.  Mom became both parents and had to do all of the things you would have done.   

You also left us with a network of friends who you were so dear to they have kept in touch and still come to visit after twenty-two years.  It is like having a bunch of extra uncles who can have fun with me and tell stories of how you used to get in trouble.  I still learn new things about you and meet people who you made an impact on, and it feels good to know my Dad was a good man.  The Military Family has been my lifeline, and I am proud of you for making the choice to serve.  Thank you for showing me that at an early age, and for being strong enough of character and love to give your life for our country.

Lastly, I think you would be quite proud of me. I went to your alma mater, and found a true role model and father figure in Coach Ed Weichers. With the guidance of Coach Weichers and his boxing staff, I was able to become an All-American boxer. Boxing taught me perseverance as I went through the challenges of becoming a disabled veteran. I felt you with me as I traveled the road to healing.

I would not have finished college without the help of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, who have been one of those friends I mentioned earlier. I cannot tell you how kind and loving they have been. They have been a voice on the phone, a financial hand when I needed it, and a huge source of encouragement and moral support. They are a constant reminder to me and my family that we will never be alone in our loss of you.

Even though I don't plan on being a father any time soon, I have found a deep respect for all fathers, and mothers who had to become fathers. If you can see us from up there, or maybe just our hearts, be proud and know that we will see you again one day.

Happy Father's Day, and I thank God for the time I had with you.

Love,

Nick