Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Few Good Men

Kevin's Dad, Delmar, whom we all knew as "Del" when he also worked at AAR Western Skyways, had been a U. S. Marine.  USMC.  At Kevin's memorial service, Del talked about teaching his two children, Kevin and his sister Jerilyn, how to shoot and handle firearms. 

Del had taught them well, at least Kevin.  Del told us how Kevin and young buddies decided to go deer hunting, armed only with Kevin's .22 caliber rifle.  Kevin was too young to get a hunting license at the time--which he hadn't bothered to consider.  Nevertheless, Kevin bagged a deer on his first time out...  with a .22 rifle. 

So much for the argument that you need an AR-15 with 30-round clip for deer hunting.  When I was young, a high school classmate went hunting for the first time with Dad and carried a .270 Winchester.  The kid had such buck fever that his shots were poorly placed and didn't kill the deer until he had fired nine times.  Nine rounds...  Sounds like a local police shooting.  Yet in his first time out, Kevin was able to bring down a deer with the lowly .22.  Go figure.  Clearly a difference in training.    

The .22 is so small and low powered that it's barely useful for more than plinking at cans and taking out small rodents.  To be sure, the .22 can kill you.  When I was a boy, a second cousin of mine, Alan, accidentally shot himself with a .22 when he was shooting sparrows around the barn.  I once scared myself half to death when the single-shot .22 I was carrying discharged a few inches from my left ear. 

I had a cartridge in the chamber, but the hammer wasn't cocked.  But I was foolishly using the butt of the stock to hammer through some ice so I could check a trap I had set under the ice on the Bell Creek.  The jarring was enough to nudge the hammer against the firing pin causing the cartridge to fire. 

I thank God I survived that excursion into stupidity and lack of judgment.  It's not the only time God has spared my life. 

But Del and Kevin's mother had done much more than teach their kids about guns.  They taught them responsibility, judgment, committment, and steadfast relationships.  In a word, adulthood. 

As I read about crime, violence and shootings; as I hear the stories of the lives of young children and their home life that Jean tells me when she comes home from school; as I learn of yet more city, state or federal officials whose conduct is anything but mature and responsible, I come back to Kevin and where he came from. 

I come back to Kevin and who he came from.  I come back to Kevin and who he knew he needed to be:  a good man.  I had a Dad who was a good man.  And a Mom who was the equal of that as a Mom.

A number of years ago, I was in class with a female colleague who was pastor of a small Lutheran church in Omaha, Nebraska.  The majority of her congregation was female.  Over 90%, according to this pastor, had experienced sexual violence, domestic violence, or both.  After listening to her grief and the challenge it presented--for not only her congregation but society at large--I responded, "We could fix most of what's wrong with society by fixing a few things wrong with our men."

That pastor calmly and quickly replied, "You got that right."

Like the USMC, I think we're all looking for a few good men. 

I wouldn't mind if a couple million of 'em were named Kevin.  Or Del.  Or Oswald.  Good men can be named anything.  But they need to be good men first, every one of them. 

Happy Father's Day!



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