~ A Conversation with Pam Reeve ~ 

My Father’s Child on the Fourth of July

I was an Army brat. Grew up on military bases, went to post schools much of my life.  I adored my dad; my mom always said I was his “first born son” (I took that as a compliment at the time, might react a little differently today).  Dad was a quiet and unassuming man, a fair example of the “Greatest Generation”. High school educated, he was one of the smartest people I have ever known.  He was a POW in World War II and also served in Korea, before continuing to serve stateside for another 20 years.  Most of my deeply held beliefs

I probably got from him. As a frail and flawed human, I am still working on them:

  • Forgiveness: Dad spent seven months in internment in Germany, with the bullet in his body he ultimately took to his grave.  He was interrogated, received meager nourishment and got no medical care.  Yet he told me years later that he held no ill-will toward his captors.  He said resentment is a cancer that can eat away at your heart; that forgiveness is the best medicine, (even if it is a little bitter going down!)  Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  •  Open-mindedness: Dad always said there are at least three sides to any story:  your side, my side and the right side.  He was always willing to explore the possibilities of a different interpretation of events that happened or comments people made. As introverted as he was in many ways, I think his influence was one of the reasons I got into debate. To this day I enjoy looking at things from all angles, exploring the “what ifs” (sometimes to the distress of my loved ones and colleagues!)    John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
  • Unconditional love: Dad always assumed good will on my part, even during those times I could rightfully be accused of something less. Our biggest argument and the only time I think I really hurt him, was about the Viet Nam war.  He had always encouraged me to be independent, and when that independence reared its head in positive or not so positive ways, his love was steadfast.  I never doubted it.   1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
  • Principles: Dad really believed in the ideals of the US, even as he was clear-eyed about the work to be done to realize them. He believed in equality of opportunity, dignity, justice and community. He was a strong (strong!) believer in moving forward. He would broach no disrespect to others of different color or economic status, nor a wallowing in the past or previous failings. He believed a loving community could overcome all odds. His gifts of hopefulness, hospitality and generosity were shared with all his whole life, including long into his “retirement”.    Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”  Jeremiah 29:22 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”    Hebrews 10:24-25 “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” 

So–during this difficult week, in a difficult month, in a difficult year, as we approach a celebration of the birth of our country, I am turning my thoughts to Lt. Col. I. C. Andersen: Thank you, Dad.