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- This was originally posted on a writing website, in 2001, as a birthday gift for my dad.
- I also had it posted on a different writing website in 2002, for the anniversary of 9-11. May all who died rest in peace, and all who survived find peace.
- Thought I'd share it here today, in honor of Father's Day. -CB
Happy birthday, dad! I've always known you were a hero. I just thought it was high time everyone else did, too. Love, C.
October 18, 2001
One of the most positive things to come out of last month's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is the positive attention our nation's firefighters and other civil servants have received since. The outpouring of support for them is something that brings me near to tears, every time I see it. It's about time that we, as a nation, stood up and recognized the people who, every day, put themselves in harm's way for us. They ARE, absolutely, HEROES, and much too often, that fact is taken for granted by those of us in the average workaday world.
There's only one thing that troubles me about all of this positive attention. People seem to think that our firefighters, policemen, and emergency medical technicians are heroes, because of their efforts at the WTC and the Pentagon. That's not true. They've ALWAYS been heroes – this situation is just where that heroism has come shining through!
Over the last month, the news has featured interviews with several of the rescuers, particularly firefighters, who have been involved with the efforts at "Ground Zero," in Manhattan. They've been wide open, humble, and have even thanked us for our time! It's been a small sampling of the heroes in our midst who, when they are not needed, are too easily ignored. Now, I'd like to introduce you to another one.
Mister Arthur L. Bishop is my father, and today, he is fifty-two years old. He is recently retired from his home county in Virginia, after twenty-five years of service, starting with the police department, and ending as a deputy in the sheriff's office. He's done a bit of everything there. He's both directed traffic and written tickets. He's worked the jail, the courts, and served warrants. He's been a crime scene investigator (CSI, before it was considered cool); taking the pictures and dusting for prints. He's worked in police property and logistics for the sheriff's office. He's been a training officer on the firing range, and taught a wide range of classes to deputies. He's never had to shoot anyone, though there were a few close calls. The only thing that's ever gotten him in trouble is his honesty. He tells it like it is, and those who are more concerned with political posturing than what's right, often don't want to hear it that way. To his extreme credit, even after retiring, my dad is still working, part time, for the sheriff's office.
But wait, there's more.
During Vietnam, my dad was in the United States Air Force, stationed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at Tinker Air Force Base, in Civil Engineering and Heating. Thankfully, rather than being sent to Vietnam, he wound up stationed in Alaska. He doesn't often tell stories about that time, but there is one thing I've heard repeated many times. Dad says that when he was leaving for Alaska, he was told that there was a girl behind every tree. The only problem? Where he was stationed, there weren't any trees.
Once he came back home, dad had the option of working with his brother and my grandfather, in my grandfather's television business. He opted for police work instead, but dad still knew a thing or twenty about how to fix a TV. Dad didn't stop with the police department though. He also worked for the fire department for a few years (home county Company 3), and also volunteered as an emergency medical technician with the local Volunteer Rescue Squad. He taught CPR and first aid through the Red Cross, as well as motorcycle safety courses and Defensive Driving through the National Safety Council (that's the class you get sent to, when you get a speeding ticket). He's even taught Sunday School classes!
But wait, there's still more!
Aside from his professional choices, dad has also had a few interesting hobbies. If he were a character in a movie, you'd have to call him a man's man. As a teenager, he played drums in a band. He rode, and still rides, a motorcycle. While in Alaska, he went moose hunting! In Oklahoma, he at least once worked security for professional wrestling, and that was when people, as a general rule, didn't know that wrestling is scripted. He almost got to be on TV that day, as part of the ringside action, but passed it up (and regretted it on the way home). Here in Richmond, when dad took a break from police work, he worked as a night manager for a trucking company, keeping those big rigs rolling. Later, he got so interested in stock car racing, he became a NASCAR official, inspecting race cars at Southside Speedway, a short track that was around long before Richmond International Raceway. Nothing will make your heart skip a beat like watching your dad dodge a racecar. Well, except maybe the thought of him owning his own karaoke machine!
But wait, there's STILL MORE!
On top of all that, this icon of manhood has also been my father. When I was eleven, my parents got divorced, and I chose to stay with my dad, because I didn't want to leave my home, or change schools. (Don't get me wrong, my mom's a great woman, but this isn't about her.) I got to know dad even better than I had before. In a few years, he got married a second time, and became a father to not just me, but also two more boys – my stepmother's sons, from her previous marriage. He managed to juggle us all pretty well, if I may so, and even after I moved out at a too early age (because I was hard headed, and had to do things my own way) he was still there for me when I needed him. He still is, to this day.
So you see, while the rest of the country has jumped on this mass bandwagon to support and congratulate our civil servants (and unfortunately, it's probably a passing fad) I just sit back and watch. Why are people so surprised? I've always known they were heroes, but for far too long, I failed to truly realize that I lived with one every day. Even my lifelong hobby of reading and collecting comics has probably stayed with me because of my dad. I've spent my life reading and writing the tales of superheroes, who fight evil and juggle planets, and all the while, a larger than life hero has been right beside me, helping me through real life. All he needs is a cape and a secret cave, and he's in there... Who knows? He might have a surprise for me yet.
Dad, happy birthday. And thanks. You're my hero.
June 17, 2012 Update: At sixty-two, dad is fully retired now, and has closed down his defensive driving school. He’s now a full time granddaddy to my youngest brother’s two children. He gets them early in the morning, feeds them lunch (when my brother comes by to see them on his lunch break, every day) and sends them out the door in the evening, when my sister-in-law gets off of work. They’re a handful of fun, and dad loves every minute of it. If you give him a chance (which usually just involves being in earshot) he’ll tell you all about it.
Still no cape or secret cave, but it isn't over yet! ;)
I am so blessed and privileged to have my dad still in my life. I am thankful every day that I can still pick up the phone or drop by and see him. Happy Father’s Day, dad – love you, C.