“Most Americans grow up believing that their country is great–not perfect, but a model for other nations. The United States is where anyone can achieve almost anything, depending on how hard he or she is willing to work. It is a nation where ideals such as freedom and democracy are vigorously discussed and defended every day.” – Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson- Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.
My father came to this country with his family when he was 16 years old. His father was poor, hard-working, righteous and convinced that his 10 children would have a better chance here in the United States than in the tiny Caribbean country from which they came. My grandfather and grandmother worked hard with the single aim to put all of their children through school and see them prosper. My father went on to earn a degree in chemistry and to attend medical school. His siblings were teachers, nurses and business owners before my grandparents died in the 1930s. My father became a citizen of this country at age 20 while retaining his wonderful Jamaican accent and charm.
My father, following the example of his father, did not accept that his children would not achieve. He demanded scholarship, hard work and honor from us. He prayed every day in the early morning, always asking for God’s guidance in treating his patients and providing for his family. He was my first spiritual guide and my best in terms of learning to exceed the expectations of others in all matters. “If you have to work longer, Magpie (his nickname for me because I asked questions constantly), “then you work longer and smarter.” he would always say. “Don’t let the sun go down on a task to be completed”.
My father joined the segregated Army Air Corps (pre-dated the Air Force) and served after attending college but before medical school. He was a leader by example, taking care of those under his command with gentle but firm guidance. He never raised his voice or spoke an unkind word about another human being; always had a ready laugh with flashing brilliant blue eyes and snow-white hair. Yes, my father was a revolutionary all of his 90 years because he didn’t ever meet a person that wasn’t his mate (friend). I miss him today because he would love the cold of the first frost this morning.