Downtown Diary 

My Father

My Father
On Memorial Day, I thought about my father, who died two years ago at the age of 72. As a youth, I resented my father; I was even embarrassed by him. Why did he have to be an independent trucker, an owner-operator hauling steel out of the Gary mills, while everybody else’s dad had a normal job? Why did he own an old Autocar semi, while other truckers had new Kenworthys? Why did he always have a strange car like a Corvair instead of a respectable Ford Country Squire station wagon? Why was he constantly engaged in some pointless project, like restoring a Norton 650 motorcycle? Why didn’t he just go buy a new Kawasaki? Why was he so hard-headed, so independent? Why did he make waves? Why was he so anti-authoritarian? As time has passed, I have come to realize that those qualities that I resented in my father were in fact positive qualities: independence of mind, spirit and action, combined with generosity and the ability to tell right from wrong. These are old-fashioned Hoosier qualities that one can trace back through Kurt Vonnegut, Marguerite Young, Eugene Debs and beyond. These are old-fashioned Hoosier qualities we surely could use now. My father was a man who would do anything for another person; this stands in stark contradistinction to many people today, whom one could expect to do anything to another person. I am thinking here of our shameless political and business leaders, national and local, who continue to be a source of wonderment to anyone raised in an ethical environment. On Memorial Day, amidst all of the sycophantic flag-waving and adulation of our ever-expanding military- and police-state, I thought of my father, who has become a hero to me, an example of individual resistance in a society that survives by crushing the individual.

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