During the night soldiers had come to their street to try and arrest their mother and auntie, even though they had done nothing wrong. But before the soldiers could find them, they escaped and made it to my house because they had heard that I could locate secure places for people to hide. A friend had given me your father’s phone number, so I called to ask if he knew of anywhere these people would be able to find shelter. Sure enough, your dad did know of such a place, and so we could help the ladies and girls on the initial part of their journey to safety.
It has now been many months since that early morning, and while the two children still have to hide, they’re no longer living in fear and have even started to attend school classes on line. From time to time I talk to them by phone, and when I do I always remember your father who played such an important role in transforming their tears and fears into cheerful smiles.
When I was about your age, we had what was called a “Father’s Day” at school. We would bring our dads to class and they would tell the children about their jobs. But there were always some kids who felt sad because their fathers couldn’t be there to explain the kind of work they did. I understand their feelings because I too have experienced sadness and loneliness.
I’m sure there have been times when you missed your dad very much, maybe when you’ve had a recital, class play or baseball game. You might have looked around at the other children whose fathers were present and wondered why your dad wasn’t watching too. There is a reason. Your dad couldn’t always be with you at those important events because there is in him something notable and extraordinarily valuable, something that not every child is fortunate to have in a dad.
Your father is not a banker, a lawyer or the manager of a company. Your father is someone much more exceptional and rare. To many people he’s a Hero, with a capital H, a man who has devoted countless days and nights to helping others during their times of greatest need. You can tell your friends that your dad can’t always be with you because his important job is being a Hero. If you don’t believe me, ask those two young girls who came knocking on my door early one morning so many months ago, and the scores of others whom he has helped before and since.
I believe that if you sit very still and listen carefully to a gentle breeze, you will hear a whisper from deep inside that calls to certain, special individuals. That faint voice insists that the greatest job a person can do is to help those less fortunate. Most people seem unable to hear the voice, but your father hears it clearly. It is because your dad has the gift of hearing that voice that he cannot always be with you. The voice calls on him to be a Hero and he can’t turn away. He knows what he must do.
I spoke with your father last week when he was at the airport waiting for his flight. He seemed very happy—not to be leaving Myanmar, but happy to be going home in time to surprise his youngest child who was about to celebrate a seventh birthday. Through the phone I could almost see the broad smile on his face. You all mean a great deal to your dad, and I’m sure that he means a lot to you. He also means a lot to many, many people here. All of us thank you for sharing him when we needed him most.
So, in future, during those times when you’re missing your dad, remember this letter and how fortunate you are to have a father who has the most important job in the world—a Hero. Who knows, perhaps one day a sweet breeze will slip by you, and if you sit quite still, really quietly, maybe you’ll hear the same small voice that your father hears, and on that day you too might become a Hero, just like him.
With fondest regards and many, many thanks,
Christopher J. Walker