By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
There is no doubt that God has been good to me. I have received so many blessings in my life, but none have been better or more rewarding than being a father.
With all the responsibilities a person can have today, being a parent is by far the most important in significant, and it is a responsibility that I take more seriously than anything else I do. Whatever else I may do in life, being a father and husband will always come first.
And that is a value I learned from my own father. I would not be the man, the husband or the father I am today were it not for my dad.
My dad was always a busy man. Between his career in public education, his military service and his time in the legislature, my dad had a lot of demands on his time. But he never let any of that get in the way of being a father. Being a father was always his number one priority.
My dad was always there for me, looking out for my best interests even when I wasn’t.
When I went to college and my grades started to slip, my dad pulled me out of school and put me to work at the Gadsden Goodyear plant. He and those men at that plant straightened me out real quick, and I learned that I could either get busy working or get busy getting an education. So when I got the chance to go back to school, I didn’t waste it.
My dad also taught me that a man always repays his debts. That first year of college when my grades slipped was not cheap, and my dad made me pay him back every cent he spent on me that year.
And paying my dad back led me to make another life-altering decision: to join the military. My dad had always taught me the value of service and the need to give back to our country and our community. Like my dad, I chose to give back by joining the Army Reserve and later the Alabama National Guard, where I spent 14 years as a tank commander.
My military service allowed me to give back to my country and repay my dad for the money he spent on my education.
My dad’s commitment to service is what led him to serve in the state legislature. Pops loved Etowah County and Alabama. Outside of his family, his greatest joy in life was serving our community and helping those in need. Because he instilled those values in me, I also chose to run for the legislature after he passed away.
My dad had a greater impact on my life than he ever knew when he was alive. I am so fortunate to be his son and to have learned the lessons he has taught me. There were three moments in my life that I wanted to share with my dad: the birth of my children, for him to pin my lieutenants bars on my uniform when I was commissioned an officer in the Army and to see me elected to the Legislature. I am grateful that he was there for the first two, and I know he got to see the third from Heaven.
My dad influenced my life in so many ways. I would not be the man I am today were it not for him. He taught me what it means to be a father, and I have tried to follow his example as I have raised my own children.
I hope all of the dads reading this have had a great Fathers’ Day! Being a dad is the greatest joy and responsibility a man can have. We are blessed to have so many good fathers in our community and throughout Alabama. Happy Fathers’ Day to you all!
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.