Published June 2008 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd HONORING OUR FATHERS Last month, in honor of Mother's Day, women across West Virginia were treated to cards, flowers, calls, hugs and kisses, brunches, and gifts. Retailers urged more extravagant manifestations of love for our wives and mothers, offering a dazzling array of heart-shaped diamond jewelry- all of which is certainly deserved, if not always affordable!
Sunday, June 15th, fathers get their due. A less extravagant selection-- coffee mugs, cologne, and, of course, neckties -- constitute the classic Father's Day gift assortment. Still, I am sure that most American fathers will enjoy being the center of the family's attention on Sunday.
Fathers deserve their day in the limelight. Good fathers are very busy men, and their contributions to the family merit recognition just as much as their equally busy wives do. They often fulfill the stereotypical 'Dad role' - keeping the house and the yard in good repair, even if it means tackling mechanical or construction activities for which they have little skill. They assist with homework and school projects, patiently helping to build foaming volcanoes or dioramas. They teach children to fish, paddle a canoe, or ride a bicycle. Good fathers want great things for their children, and always let them know that they believe in them.
The man who raised me, the man I always called Dad, my adoptive father, was just such a good man. Every night he walked home from the coal mines, tired and caked with coal dust. Tired as he was, he always greeted me with a smile. Sometimes he had a cupcake in his lunch box, saved just for me. Even though I wanted to go into the mines like him, he always told me to do well in school instead. He wanted better for me than he had, and he put his energy into urging me to improve myself. His influence has been a resource for me my whole life.
For children, to have a great father, whether he is one's biological or adoptive father, or simply a father figure who influenced one's youth, is a very special thing indeed. Their children have the security of knowing, always, that they are loved and that someone is rooting for them and looking out for them. In that security, a child can find the confidence to try and to fail, and to get up and try again. It is a great and lasting gift that our fathers give to each of us, one that certainly deserves one day of specific recognition each year.
June 4, 2008