HONORING FALLEN FATHERS
Jun 1, 2016
Fallen Patriots scholar, Johanna Walker’s dad, Colonel Cliff Walker, died saving her little brother from drowning. Her dad’s sacrifice showed her the depth of love and the courage in sacrifice.
I miss you.
That is the one unwavering fact of my existence. I will miss you every day until the day I die, but that is not a bad thing. I know there is something stronger than my grief, which is my love for you and your love for me.
It was a Monday. You died, and I grew up.
Next year will mark the point where I have lived longer without you than with you. I find it fascinating--and somehow comforting--that even though I only knew you for ten years, you remain such a powerful presence in my life. Death could not diminish your love for me.
You lived your life so profoundly, Daddy. The example of your life is the greatest gift you could have ever given me, second only to your love for me. You, even in your last moments--especially in your last moments--taught me how to live. I have the entire story of your life to guide me into whom I am trying to become. You taught me that pride is useless and a lie, because success cannot be obtained by one's actions alone. No man is an island, after all.
Every action and event in our lives is a result of the contributions and efforts others have made.
Not only this, but you taught me how to be brave and to be kind. The outcome of our actions is not nearly as important as our actions, because it is what we try to do that determines character.
You were invincible to me as a child. I thought you were the perfect man, the perfect soldier, and the perfect father. I know now that even the perfect soldier faces fear. Still, I wonder, were you afraid, Dad? Whether you were or not, you showed me that bravery is not the absence of fear, but the knowledge and understanding that other things are more important.
Living without you is terrifying. I am going to spend the rest of my life without you and I cannot deny that is more time than I can or want to comprehend. There have been so many times in the last nine years where it would have been easier to give up. But whenever it gets hard to breathe with the weight of missing you, I think of your sacrifice. You made a choice between you or your son, and you chose what was most important. Your child. So I make a choice as well: I choose hope. Life may be uncertain, but I'm learning that is also a promise of infinite possibility. To be brave is to believe that I have a greater purpose. If there is anything your life has taught me, it is how to love--without reservation and without haste. Like it is written on your tombstone, you lived, loved, and died with honor.
You used to sing "Don't Fence Me In" every night and I took it to heart, Daddy. You raised a little girl with the knowledge that nothing could keep her from her dreams and now that little girl is a young woman who possesses a firm belief in her potential.
Despite that any child should not grow up without a father, I do not think I would have come to understand these truths if you had not died as you did and when you did. Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, "Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies." You become an adult when you learn things children should not know and children should not know death. Though my last wish and greatest fear was your death, I am grateful that it has made me a better person. You made me realize what it is that I want to do. I want to be a nurse because I want tosave lives, just as you saved Thor's.
So thank you for everything, Dad. I hope to make you proud.
We all lose our fathers one day, but for many it happens far too soon. Over 97% of those killed in action are men, often leaving behind a family who sadly won’t have their dad to hug on Father’s Day. As Father’s Day approaches, other children are preparing for family barbeques and gift giving, reminding surviving children of their painful loss: their dad. Fallen Patriots strives to fill a piece of that emptiness, and help provide emotional support along with future financial funding.
By providing support for surviving children and their families, Fallen Patriots is making an instrumental investment in the future of America. Father’s Day is an important time for our entire nation to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that so many soldiers and their families have made.