Post pays tribute to military fathers
June 13, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson celebrated the contributions of military fathers during its annual Fatherhood Recognition Ceremony at the Solomon Center Tuesday.
Now in its third year, the Fatherhood Appreciation Ceremony has grown from the nine men recognized during the 2010 event. Greg Lewis, Family Advocacy Program specialist, said 34 fathers were recognized last year, with more than 60 noted at this week's event.
"It's likely that everyone here has some memory of their dad," Lewis told Tuesday's gathering, an audience that included many of this year's nominees and their families. "It may be very pronounced; it may be very vivid. It may very well be a distant memory that fades in the blink of an eye."
Col. Stephen Yackley, Fort Jackson deputy commander, told the audience Tuesday that fatherhood is a lifelong commitment that rarely goes as planned.
"Even when your children have grown up, moved on, or even had children of their own, that title of 'father' is never relinquished," Yackley said. "It is definitely the most challenging task any man can face. There's no operations order, plan or script to follow. You can read all the self-help books, rehearse and visualize what you will do, but life's many challenges will disrupt even the best prepared."
Fatherhood can be stressful, but military careers put additional pressure on families, said Col. Michael Graese, Fort Jackson's garrison commander.
"For the drill sergeant, the deployed commander or the recruiter who's spent countless hours on mission, it can be extremely difficult to stay connected, not to mention performing the normal duties of being a dad," Graese said. "Since there are no clear rules, manuals or specific regulations to guide a dad through the responsibilities and duties of fatherhood, questions such as, 'How do I do this?' and, 'What does being a good provider and role model for my children really mean?' can be hard to answer."
"As a military father, it's even more difficult, because we are faced with situations and challenges that most civilian fathers could not imagine," Yackley said. "Our duties take us away at the most inconvenient times, and we miss important events in our children's lives. That is why it is important to be there when we can."
The event's youngest guest speaker was Michael Gibson, 15, a student at Spring Valley High School. Gibson represented Fort Jackson Child, Youth and School Services in Tuesday's presentations.
"My father gave me the greatest gift he could give to any other person," he told the crowd. "He believed in me."