This weekend marks the 31st Father’s Day without my father. I must admit that nineteen is a pretty young age to lose your dad. He was larger than life. He was my compass. He was the one I strove to impress. No offense to my mom; she was always proud of me. There was just something about my dad.
He served in the United States Marine Corps for an impressive 31 years. At the age of seventeen, my dad went to Korea, was trapped in the Chosin Reservoir, and came home with the Purple Heart, along with some shrapnel that remained in his knee for the rest of his life. Many years later, he served two tours in Vietnam. He reached the highest rank that an enlisted Marine can reach: Sergeant Major of the 4th Marine Division. I was proud to be his daughter, and I needed him to be proud to be my dad. So, when he died from colon cancer in 1988, I was devastated. I was lost.
As I became a full-fledged grownup, I came to realize that he is still my compass, and my measuring stick for almost everything. From him, I learned my work ethic, sense of integrity, loyalty, and respect. I owe so much of who I am to him.
The fathers who have motivated and inspired us all along our journeys to and through adulthood come in all shapes and sizes, blood and not blood, stepfathers, fathers-in-law, father figures. We may have had one or two or even five men like this in our lives. And who would be without them?
So today, I want to honor Sgt. Major William J. Steele. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you, I miss you, and I hope I’ve made you proud.
Author: Mary C. Morton