I had to call my brother on Wednesday. I wanted to talk about his memories about our pop and what happened fifty years ago on August 28.
I was seven years old on the day of the March on Washington and the “I have a dream” speech. But my dad was there. He took off work at the Veteran’s Administration hospital to travel four or five hours to Washington, and that took courage.
What I remember most was the feeling that Dad was doing something important. And when he walked in the house afterward, he showed us a white button that he brought back—just like the one on Dr. King’s lapel in the photos. More than that, I remember the atmosphere in the house as he visited with my mother. It wasn’t a wild celebration or anything, but there was a sense of joy and hope, like a new day was coming.
Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the details of that day in Washington fifty years ago. I’ve studied the lives of many of the people who were there, and I’ve learned to imitate Dr. King’s cadence when he spoke.
Much of the talk I’ve heard this week has been about whether things have changed in fifty years—or whether things have changed enough. Clearly, our nation still has room to improve in many areas. As I’ve often said, I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, the fatherhood crisis that affects so many children and families would be one of his top concerns.
And I think about what my dad would say if he were alive today. When I dropped my son off at his high school on Wednesday, the thought came to me:
That’s Ralph Casey’s grandson, doing what his granddad dreamed and desired that his descendants would do. He’s going to school with kids of all different races, learning about the world, talking about where he’s going to go to college and dreaming about what type of career and future he’s going to have.
Have all racial issues been solved? Is it a perfect situation for everyone? Definitely not. But I believe my pop would be smiling at the progress.
My daddy shaped the content of my character—and that of his children’s children. The basics of who he was live on through us and his grandkids, and I’m grateful whenever I think about that. As my brother told me, our dad had courage, he was consistent, and he was humble.
For all of us dads, we have to keep coaching our kids. Dr. King’s father kept his son in line and helped set him up to be a leader. He made those daily investments just like my Pop did with me.
Remember, you never know where your children will go or what they will accomplish. Are you coaching those youngsters eating at your dinner table in such a way that they will grow up to have great marriages, make important contributions to society, come up with new discoveries, and/or be part of a much-needed cultural change? And then raise the next generation to do the same?
Being a dad is not just about our individual kids and their future. Through the way we coach them for life, we’re making investments for the greater community; we’re contributing to a better future.
What are your dreams for your children? How do you keep those long-term goals in mind every day? Please leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Talk with a sibling or another childhood friend about your father’s influence and his character.
- What historical or personal events have shaped who you are? Share those memories—and the way they changed you—with your children.
- Challenge your child to take on a new level of leadership in one of his or her pursuits. (And be there to coach him along if he does.)
- Dream with your kids. What will the world be like 50 years from now? What changes would benefit the most people?
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.