The Blessings of Father’s Day - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Blessings of Father’s Day

It is hot here in Beverly Hills. I flew in from Dulles last night on Virgin America. It is a great flight in terms of leg room, but the food was criminally bad. Just stunningly awful. Who eats food like that? Rice pilaf? In the USA? What?

I am still reeling about the shootings in Charleston. I did some calculations, along with my trusty friend Bob. Dylann Storm Roof (the “storm” is a phony to show he was a Neo-Nazi) murdered nine faithful black Christians in about two hours last Wednesday. It is a national tragedy and should be.

Every ten hours — roughly — black Americans kill nine black Americans, on average, day after day, and again, these are rough calculations. That’s every day. This in no way lessens Dylann Roof’s sin. But it shows how sorrowful is the condition of Black America. Why is it so bad? Because black male children grow up without fathers in the home. Tragedy.

When I see the faithfulness of God’s servants in the black community in terms of their churchgoing and forgiveness, I know that the cure for black America is for that faithfulness to spread. It will work wonders in the family and in the nation.

In the meantime, I saw and heard family members tell Dylann Roof that they forgave him. This is perhaps the high point in religion and faithfulness in the United States in my lifetime. It is blindingly impressive.

Has there ever been such a display of love?

Well, in peacetime.…

Anyway, should they take down the Confederate flag? Because of one evil, mentally sick man? I don’t know. Hard to believe that would stop another psychotic madman from killing. No one really believes there will be another Confederacy. Why bother? It is a historical artifact. Taking it down solves nothing. But if it makes black people feel better, then do it by all means. Maybe just do it, period. People can still have it in their homes and in museums. But why rub salt in the wounds of black people?

Anyway, I got home and my wife was coughing like a madwoman. This always scares me to death. My wife is the living, breathing incarnation of the Lord’s love. I want her to be healthy. Mostly I want to spend eternity with her and the dogs.

And my sister and my son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter and Phil and Michael Chinich and Bob and Barron and Steve. And our housekeepers, Rosa and Jennifer. And my brother-in-law, Melvin, for wisdom.

And the Vissers, even the sarcastic ones. And Helen. But no cats.

Anyway, again, it’s Father’s Day. I really have written so much about my father that I cannot write a lot more. He’s been gone now since 2:50 PM, September 8, 1999. My sister and I were holding his hands and reading the Psalms to him as he entered immortality. My pal Phil flew in immediately for the service.

How blessed I was to have him as a father. My first memories of him were his sitting outside among the fireflies on Caroline Avenue in Silver Spring. He would run an extension cord out the window to an ancient tube radio to listen to the Senators play. He sat there and once in a while he would have a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Pabst had given him an enormous prize for a piece he had written while he was in the Navy about how to avoid going back into a Depression after the War. We all loved Pabst. So, he would be out there listening to baseball and smoking Camels and the fireflies were all around.

He watched sports all his life, usually with the sound off.

I worshiped him. He was fantastically smart. Knew everything. Graduated from Williams at 19. Never did a mean thing to me except lecture me about being overweight, oddly enough, years before I became seriously overweight.

He seemed glamorous to me. He flew first class. Stayed at expensive hotels. But that was on the expense account. In Silver Spring, he was frugal. But my Mom and he sent my sister and me to expensive colleges — Wellesley and Columbia — without scholarships, without loans, without part-time jobs. He had worked his way through college washing dishes at a frat that did not take Jews.

His spectacular genius was that he didn’t resent it. He was grateful for the job.

He loved RN. But not like many in the White House who saw themselves as being above the fray. He and my mother would have done anything for RN. Literally anything. But RN never asked him to.

Well. When I dropped out of Yale Law School for a year to work as an economist, my father and I rode down to work together and came back together. Most of what I know about economics I learned from listening to him in that gorgeous red Chevy Impala V-8 I had conned him into buying so I would look cool at Montgomery Blair High School. What an economist/Dad to do that for his show-off son.

When I was in D.C. and then in the White House after Yale, we had lunch together in the White House Mess a couple of times a week, sometimes more often.

I don’t know of many sons who spent better time with their Pops than I did with mine. Thank you Mr. Nixon for making it possible.

Once, maybe more than once, when I was a White House speechwriter for RN, I came up to my father’s office and asked him to help me find a statistic. “Only if you have nothing more important to do,” I added.

“What do you think I would have to do that would be more important than helping my only son?” he asked me.

When my mother passed on April 21, 1997, he was cruelly lonely. I spent many weeks with him, flying in from L.A. to keep him company. On my birthday in 1997, he sent me a fax that read, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST SON IN THE WORLD: My support, advisor, confidant, companion, and friend. Love, Pop.”

I miss him painfully many times a day. Maybe all day every day. I just cannot believe he’s gone. My mother was devout as well, but she was easily roused to anger, which was rare for my father.

I should tell you I am also missing my handsome, glorious Uncle Bob Denman, Korean War hero, and my magnificent father-in-law, Colonel Dale Denman, Jr., U.S. Army. Silver Star. Bronze Star. Distinguished Service Medal. Most handsome man you ever saw except for Bob. The two most self-effacing war heroes ever.

Col. Denman was good to me beyond what I can possibly say. Alex and I were married, divorced, and remarried. When I saw him before the second wedding, I said, “You probably want to kill me.”

He said, “I’m just glad to have you back in the family.”

When my father-in-law, who was a youth in Prescott, Arkansas, asked in about 1932 why they didn’t set off fireworks on July 4 like other kids, his father, Dale Denman, said in shock, “Why, Dale, that’s the day Vicksburg surrendered.”

This man grew up in rigidly segregated Arkansas. A black minister officiated at his memorial service in 1994. This country has changed a lot. If a man like my father-in-law, who fought the Nazis hand-to-hand and won, wanted the stars and bars up, I say let them be up. But I don’t think he would have wanted them up. I could easily be wrong.

Well, I opened some great gifts from my wife, my son and his family, and now I am about to swim.

Did I mention that on Friday Bob took me to the Air Force Memorial next to the Pentagon. It is a soaring memorial to the “missing man” formation, honoring our brave fliers. I talked at length to an F-105 pilot from Vietnam, a B-52 pilot/bombardier from Vietnam, and a peacetime KC-135 pilot. They were modest and cracking jokes about being hunted down by SAMs. Wow, they’re brave. There are concerts at the AF Memorial on Fridays. Great stuff.

We would have nothing without the military and the police. Let’s never forget. Never.

My son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter called me for Father’s Day. Very touching.

Nowadays, everything touches me deeply. Especially America. Dylann Roof spat on the American flag. He really must be criminally insane. Heavy emphasis on the criminal part.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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