Barack Obama and I have more in common than some may realize. As children, we both struggled with knowing the men who provided the DNA that created us. Later in life we both had men who were not biologically related to us assume the role of father in our lives. Given that, I would welcome the opportunity to introduce President Obama to two men who greatly impacted my life.
Most people just called them Buck and Bob.
Born Norman and James, Buck and Bob were of a different time and era.
One began supporting his family at age 8, selling hand-sewn cushions at city-wide football games for a few cents per game. He had gotten the idea from watching so many people come to the games and sit in discomfort on the cold cement bleachers in his home town's football stadium that was used by all of the town's football teams. His entreprenurial spirit was born of necessity. With older brothers in his life who would not work, and a deceased father, Bob labored even as a child to bring home a few dollars every Friday and Saturday night. By today's standards, it would barely buy a value meal for more than one person, but in his day such effort would help provide groceries or pay an electric bill. At eight years of age on this planet, Bob had figured out that if a man worked hard, using only talents given to him by God, he could use his mind and feed his family.
Likewise, Buck, as a young husband and father would rise long before dawn. He drove a grocery truck that made stops from early in the morning till late into the evening, and he only got paid for the number of stops he made. It was a very long day--sometimes 16-18 hours long. Buck would report to the warehouse, personally fill his truck with heavy bags of flour, barrels of supplies, palettes of cans. It was relentless, back-breaking work loading and unloading the truck without help, day in and day out. He did it to feed his family--the ones he loved--so that they could have uninterrupted access to their mom. Without fail, he would rise before sunshine, eat a large breakfast that somedays might be the only meal he had till he was back home that night, and work as hard as any human in America could be asked to. And in the years I've known him, he has never once complained about any of it.
When they were both of the age that was allowed, Bob and Buck served their nation. They were Navy men! And they served in a variety of theaters in what the world would come to know as the costliest global conflict in its history. They both lost friends, saw men die, and survived.
Though they were quite different, they both followed similar paths upon return from the war. Buck, the more bashful one, was able to finally convince his sweetheart to make him breakfast for those early mornings. A task she took to with delight, rising even earlier than he did on most mornings to make by hand homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, sausage gravy, fresh fruit, and of course, hot coffee. For the majority of their years on this earth, that routine held, and Buck never allowed her to forget how important that little sign of love was to him.
Upon Bob's return from war, a blushing girl from a big family thought him too much of a charmer to take seriously, but eventually gave in and married the man who never knew a stranger. He was also a man who demonstrated more loyalty to those he loved than anyone who knew him ever realized until long after his death. He eventually had to travel a great deal to keep food on his family's table, but would always point his company car in the direction of home with immediate fervor out of a great desire to see his bride and daughters.
Because of the nature of life in those days, both men had their educations interrupted. Neither of them ever had the chance to darken the doors of Harvard University for even a visit, much less to attend. Buck dropped out of school in only the eighth grade. Bob stopped and started his educational process several times, eventually securing his college degree fairly late in life, by attending night classes, long past the age any of his contemporaries. Despite their lack of more "obvious" credentials, both Buck and Bob spent their lifetime learning, analyzing, and educating themselves.
Because of this they were fierce competitors, and except on the occasion where they would be pitted against one another, both could regularly be counted on to win whatever game they competed in.
They were both extremely savvy and smart men. They were both men of common sense. They were both men that had no trouble recognizing God's existence, and saw to it that their families were in church weekly.
Even though one had a temper of legend, and the other a more passive/aggressive nature, they loved their families.
Each had flaws. Each would easily fess up to mistakes in their lives. Each would admit they were but a sinner saved by God's grace.
Buck taught me patience. Bob instilled within me a passion for justice. Buck loved to laugh at the dinner table. Bob would sing in beautiful baritone--especially when he thought no one was listening. Both loved their country. Both fought for her. Both had moral clarity and could easily define for you the difference between right and wrong.
Both would go out of their way to help their neighbors in need. One would walk a sassy kid back to his mother's doorstep by the earlobe if the situation merited it.
One voted and complained. One shunned talk of politics, but had deep concerns all the same about the direction of the country.
Both were strong in mind and body, both would have given their lives for their families, both made a bigger contribution to me than I probably can even accurately imagine.
A big piece of me wishes more men--especially our president--could have known them. Perhaps he might not have been so gullibly taken in by the campus communists, socialists, and leftists. Perhaps if Barack had known Buck and Bob, he would have never asserted that America and Islam were one and the same.
I wish that Barack had just had the chance to walk a country road with Buck, or spend an afternoon pulling weeds in the yard with Bob. Perhaps then a love of his country would have taken root in the President's heart, instead of the need to blame her.
Barack will never know Bob, and will most likely never meet Buck.
When it came time to dedicate my second book to someone who embodied the spirit of the kind of man every man should be, Buck and Bob were the only choices in my mind.
America would be a better place if everyone had the opportunity I have had to call them Gramps and Grandpa.
So to all the "Bucks" and "Bobs" being that kind of man today:
Happy Father's Day!