How special is this Father’s Day?

Very special on this end.

There’s a story in these pages about fellow Louisiana sportswriters honoring my years in Baton Rouge writing for our newspapers. The award is deeply appreciated, especially when it comes from your peers.

There’s the joy of celebrating a wedding anniversary this week, and the two sons who came during the early years with my wife Cheryl.

There’s the joy of the two women our sons brought into our family, and the ever-increasing joy from the 38?9 grandsons they’ve added to our family. (Another grandson is due to arrive in July.)

There’s an ever-present and ever-growing thankfulness for all God’s blessings, family and friends, valued co-workers, and the many truly wonderful people you meet in this profession.

There’s a thankfulness for days, weeks, months and years living in a bountiful place like south Louisiana, and for the rich memories spent in its forests, fields, swamps, bayous, rivers, marshes and coastal waters.

Thankfulness, too, for the ability to travel throughout our country, a sea-to-shining-sea wonderland of unrivaled beauty and majesty all of our citizens can enjoy if only they make the effort.

Yet this day brings mixed feelings with the dawn.

All of this comes with an ever-deepening feeling that there’s a debt that can never be fully repaid to God and to memory of the men who got me to this place, my Dad and my Grandpa.

They’re not here, not in body anyway, but their spirit, their will, their strength, their courage were, and are, and should be beacons for sons and grandsons everywhere.

How can any of us imagine a 9-year-old boy from Alia, Sicily, getting on a boat with his father then making a weeks-long voyage to a place he’d only heard about in stories.

Guiseppe Macaluso landed at Plaquemine Point 111 years ago this year, and from what I know, worked every day except Sundays to provide for his family.

His is a story of an immigrant who lived for God, his family and a country that opened its doors to him so that he could live what darned few of us know today as “The American Dream.”

Dad handed me his name. He, too, lived for God, family and country. He was a hero, an infantry company commander in World War II, three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, and several men who served in G Company, 331st, 83rd Infantry testified to his bravery and his leadership.

That was long before he became my hero, and his name has been passed down to two more generations.

We should all have been so fortunate to have men like them in our lives. I am, and have a wish they could be here today again to thank them for all they gave and continue to give.

That’s why, today, if your dad is with you, don’t miss this unique chance to make him special, because he is.