Sunday, June 16, 2013

Honoring Fathers

If you live anywhere in the North American continent, this is the Sunday in which you will most likely celebrate Father’s Day. While it is quite fitting to acknowledge the indispensible role of fathers in family life, however, I say “most likely” because not everyone will actually be celebrating this occasion.

Some, like both my husband and myself, no longer have their father present to regale over dinner or at a barbecue, or pamper with all the traditional masculine gifts.

It’s for this reason that I prefer to call this Fathers’ Day: a day to honor all our fathers. Not just our dad. But his dad, and his dad—as far back up the line as we can remember.

While I have yet to conquer the insurmountable brick wall of my own father’s line, I can take a moment here to honor my husband’s father and his paternal ancestors.

Francis X Stevens
You’ve already met my father-in-law, Frank—the one who wrote all those letters home from his assigned station in the Pacific during World War II. Indirectly, as that story unfolded, you also got to know a bit about Frank’s father, Will.

I have yet to bring you back through all the stories about Will’s younger days in his native Fort Wayne, Indiana—or his father’s escapades while serving on the police force of that city. Introducing you to more of the story of Officer John Kelly Stevens is something I hope to accomplish in the near future—and at the same time, honor him for his role in shaping my husband in his own career choices and outlook today.

There is yet one more generation that we are aware of in this particular Stevens family—one which I’ve found very little about, so far. I know one thing, though, for which we are grateful: John Kelly Stevens’ father—also named John—was the one who braved the cross-Atlantic trip to emigrate from his home in County Mayo to a new start in America. His trip, made during the era of the devastating Irish famine, must have been at great cost and great risk. Yet, if he hadn’t faced up to that challenge, how different life would have been for subsequent generations—if he would even have lived to pass the benefits along.

When we honor today’s fathers—both those who currently have the responsibility of raising little ones, and those whose parenting duties are now completed—we are quite conscious of the imprint these fathers leave upon their children’s future. Just as the choices made by our great-great-grandfathers have trickled down to our times and ultimately have shaped us, today’s fathers are making an impact on future generations through the actions they take with their own children. While we hope what we do on behalf of our children will be positive—though we all make mistakes—one of the most valuable gifts we can leave the next generation is a sense of the heritage they are receiving not just from their father, but from a long line of traditions, choices, and abilities we’ve inherited from all of our fathers.

Happy Fathers Day. May it become an inspiration to pass along the legacy of all your fathers.

John Stevens 1851 Declaration of Intent to become American citizen in Lafayette Indiana


  1. I thank you for sharing Frank with all of us. Although his life ended tragically, he had quite the adventure - and saw so much of the world - and gave the world a "little nugget" of himself - a nugget that makes me smile when I ponder his sense of humor.

  2. Hats off to the original immigrant John Stevens, and to all the brave fathers who dared to come to the New Country from the Old, for the sake of their present and future families. Yes, Day of All Fathers is a good emphasis. Frank's father, Will, looks like a stalwart person from this photo.

    Good wishes for scaling the brick wall of your own father's line.


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