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Friday, 27 August 2010

A Father's Influence - two events that changed my life.

Greetings, readers.

I was thinking about what motivates me the other day. Why, for example, do I so enjoy the company of emergency medical people, firemen, policemen, or any other first responders? For one thing they all do what they do because of their own sense of duty. I remember a quotation from Robert A. Heinlein's book, "Time Enough for Love", "Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect."
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So I am comfortable in the company of duty driven people who possess that self-respect. Why? I do remember the hurricane in 1954 called Hazel. We lived in Philadelphia and the six of us were huddled around the gas stove with no electricity during that storm. A large tree crashed down on the roof of the house next door. I remember being somewhat scared, and became quite upset when Dad put on his "oilskin" raincoat and grabbed his utility flashlight. "Don't go out there, Dad, it's dangerous," I said. I will never forget his words, "I have to son, our neighbor needs help." Nobody asked him to help, and for sure as frightening as it was out there, nobody argued with Dad after he said that. His influence on me, by example, has remained all my life.

Photograph taken four years after Hurricane Hazel

The second event was about a year earlier. I remember we drove for what seemed like hours from our home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the beach on a cold and windy day. I couldn't understand why we were standing on a wind-swept sand dune. Dad picked me up and said, "John, this is where man first flew." Is it any surprise I became a pilot?

Dad and me

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