Archive for July, 2011

Rocket Dad

July 14, 2011

“The picture we waited 30 years to complete.” Chris Bray is quoted in a Yahoo News article about side-by-side snaps of he and his Dad waiting for the first and the last shuttle missions to launch.

Chris and Kenneth Bray, STS1 to STS135

Chris and Kenneth Bray, STS1 to STS135


The photo has been viewed on Flickr over 500,000 times. “The Brays’ photo touched a chord of nostalgia in many rocket enthusiasts… melding of the personal with the historical.” And further Chris says, “The picture had a lot of significance for me and my father, but we didn’t expect that the photo would touch so many other people.”

This is the meaning, the chord of nostalgia, the music of the history, between a father and his son or daughter. There is nothing more important in a child’s life than maintaining a relationship with both parents.

For those of us who have been cut off because of divorce, separation, and unrequited animosity, the 30 year photographs are usually ones of bittersweet reunion. With all that time in-between lost to history without even a song.

Chris and his Dad are among the lucky ones who got to spend a lifetime sharing their love of the space program. “The moment has stayed with me since that day, and is one of my fondest memories and childhood experiences.”

Though my kids are nearly grown, it is never too late to hope that they will hear, within themselves, the truth about their Dad. Then, maybe, I’ll get a phone call and we can snap another photo.

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Independence Days without a Dad

July 4, 2011

Among the simple pleasures of life is relaxing on Independence Day, July 4th (or its closest “observed holiday” equivalent), with your kids.

Once upon a time, I remember being on the Capitol Lawn, with the Washington Monument pointing to each and every burst of bombs in air, giving proof through the night that my family was still there. My daughter’s broad stripes, and her bright smile, gave no hint of a perilous flight, gave no hint of an injurious fight that would take away their freedoms to know their Dad.

In July 2001, I walked those lawns once more. The red glare was less bright. O’er the ramparts I watched; there was no gallant feeling. Only unending dreaming, the time and space of an abduction that had torn our children, as never before, from the love and care of their Father.

Never has there been a dawn’s early light to compare with my children’s last gleaming. Never has there been more proof through the night that their Father is still there, gallantly streaming his love.

Oh say can you see, that our star-spangled banner does yet wave. And, though I see fireworks at times, I see that my children, no more, live in the land of the free and, no more, know the home of the brave.

To those who would stand against the stars and the stripes and those who would feign to sing the Star Spangled Banner, the family is the soul of our democratic-republic. It is bigger, older, more just and more poetic than selfishness or pride. It is constitutional and a right and a privilege to join family, to be with loved ones, and to love the ones who love you.

Stand Up JOE, I wanna get closer!

Stand Up JOE, I wanna get closer!