"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong." -- Charles Wadsworth
This will be my first fathers day with out my dad. He died in late December just before new years of cancer of the biliary duct, a cancer that is very hard to detect and often is not discovered until the later stages. He went way too soon and way too fast. He was diagnosed in August of 2009 and in just over four months he was gone. This is the same cancer that took the life of the Chicago Bears, Walter Peyton. My father was an incredible man and although we didn’t always see eye to eye, I am the man and the father I am today because of him. I catch my self saying things to my kids, my boy who’s six, and my daughter who’s three, that sound exactly the same as how my father said these things to me. I find myself making jokes exactly like my father did and even sometimes disciplining in ways he did. I find that sometimes I sound like my father so much that I don’t need to miss him, because he is right here. All I have to do is talk and I hear him. I am truly the dad I am today because of him.
But I was lucky because I got to have my father for the first 43 years of my life. Many aren’t that lucky. Today I went to a Cubs game and sitting in front of me were a bunch of guys in their twenties. I over heard one ask the other if he was going to Afghanistan or Iraq, and all I could think to myself was, I hope this kid comes back in one piece. I hope he gets to see his father again. I hope he doesn’t have any kids he is leaving behind and if he does, I hope they get to see him come back home soon. I hope his time there doesn’t leave him harmed mentally rendering him unable to deal with life, taking away his ability to feel for his family. I hope he comes back with two arms so that he can hug his kids good night, and with both legs so that he can play soccer with them. And even if he doesn’t have any kids, a wife, or a father or mother that is still around, I just hope he comes back. Because this fathers day there are way too many boys and girls, wives and girlfriends that are not going to be able to spend this fathers day with there fathers, husbands and boy friends. There are way too many boys and men who have served honorably in these wars and have either come home in body bags or have come home with parts of themselves missing either physically or mentally.
The hard truth is defeating Al Qaeda will not stop terrorism. Capturing Osama Bin Laden will not stop terrorism. In fact there is nothing that will stop terrorism. This is an ongoing threat that is not confined to one group or one boarder. This is not like other battles where the enemy is clear and sheer firepower can eliminate them. This enemy is everywhere, hiding in the shadows, living in our neighborhoods, working at our companies in every western country that shows any kind of sympathy to either the U.S. or Israel. If Osama bin Laden is captured, (and since he has not been caught by now I seriously question our ability to do so) an other leader will arise. If Al Qaeda is eliminated another group will arise. Why? Because there enough Muslim extremists who hate us and our way of life that eliminating one group or one leader will not make a bit of difference.
What we must do is continue to do what President Obama did when he spoke to the Muslim world in Egypt shortly after taking office. We must bridge the gaps between our two cultures. We must come to understand each other. We must preach the message of tolerance and acceptance. We must make the Muslim world see that we are not the enemy, but instead the true enemy is the fraction of Muslims who preach extremism, those Muslims who commit terrorism in the name of Allah, those Muslims who give there religion the reputation of being killers and murders when in fact most Muslims are peace loving and only want to practice there religion in the same way that Jews, Christians and all other religions in the world do, with out the stigma of terrorism attached to it. We must be diligent in reminding the rest of the world what the President said during his speech in Egypt, “The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it. So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”
This is the message that needs to be continuously reinforced to Muslims around the world, the message of tolerance, that we are not the enemy, that the true enemy are the terrorists that use the Muslim religion to justify there illegal terrorist actions, that to commit murder in the name of Allah is to defile the word of Mohamed. And if we can do that the Muslim world will become our partners in stopping the terrorists, not our foes. By embracing the Muslim world it does not mean we are abandoning the other religions in our country. It means that we are fulfilling the promise of our constitution and the American dream, the promise of freedom of religion, and the separation of church and state. It means that we are supporting our values that have made all religions flourish in this land with out the threat of persecution.
Too many wars have been fought in the name of religion. Too many people have died because of false impressions and misunderstandings. Too many fathers have lost the opportunity to ever see there children again, to put there arms around there loved ones, to watch there kids grow up and to take part in shaping there lives, and hear there little boys and girls say to them, Happy Fathers Day.