In his book, The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey encourages readers to write a formal tribute to their parents and present it to them during a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.).  Following is an example of a tribute.  Click here for more information on honoring your parents and for more tribute examples.

Marla Rogers wrote the following tribute to her father even though she never knew him. She explains: “Writing a tribute for a parent you never knew may seem odd, but writing this tribute proved to be a moving experience for me and my family. After I finished writing this brief tribute, I sent a copy to my mother and the rest of my extended family. Since all of the information for this tribute was gathered from the stories my family told me, even extended family found the tribute to be not only a great reflection of my father’s life, but also a comforting way to remember a man they loved. When my sister, Carla, read the tribute, she told me that my father would have been honored by what I had written, and she encouraged me to share this with the rest of the family.

“I e-mailed the tribute to my brother, Harold, his daughters, and my sister’s two sons. In the days following the email, my nieces and nephews wrote back reporting how they had not heard this story before and how they looked forward to sharing this tribute with their children. It became a way of connecting them and their children to their heritage. When my other brother, Mike, read it, I could see in his face that it touched his heart. Mike knows more about my father’s military career than anyone. After he read what I had written, he began talking more about my father’s military career. I could tell that he enjoyed recounting the tales that my father had told him, and my mother joined in. We all sat in awe of the picture of my father watching Kamikazes diving from the sky toward him in the middle of the Pacific or seeing the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. In that moment, we honored my father’s memory and life simply in our conversation, in retelling the tales of a life well spent.

“For me, writing this tribute helped me to feel more connected to my father and to the rest of my family. Because I was too small to grieve with my family when my father died, I often felt detached from experiencing my father’s life and his death. Writing this tribute helped me to feel more connected to my family’s experience as a whole and to my own place in our family’s past in particular. Most importantly, it gave me a way to obey God’s command, even for a parent I didn’t have the privilege of knowing.”

The Skating Breadman

When it came to skating, the breadman made it look easy. He strapped his skates on and floated across the newly lacquered floor like a hummingbird floating around a bright red firebush. The whole town of Lake Village turned out to watch and learn from the handsome, young breadman, because in a town with a new skating rink and no skaters, the breadman held the keys to fun in his hands.

Every other day for the next four weeks, the breadman would drop off his freshly baked bread, rolls, and buns at the local stores and then pull in at the Lake Village Skating Rink to give quick lessons to town folks. From that day forward, he was known in those parts as “The Skating Breadman.”

No one in town knew much about the young man. A few of the old timers tell that he lived in Little Rock with his wife and three children. One man reported that he heard that breadman say that he had served in the war.

“He was a Navy man, I think,” the old timer said as he sat on the shady bench at the local gas station.

A navy man indeed. He served on the U.S.S. Iowa and McGinley. As a gunner’s mate, he shot down kamikazes just before they slammed into the ship. He went into Nagasaki just 12 hours after the atomic bomb was dropped there. When asked about it, he would turn pale, shake his head, and say “It had to be done.” After witnessing the atomic bomb test on Bikini Atoll, he retired, returned home, and began delivering bread.

Contrary to common wisdom, it was not the war that awakened the man in him. It was the young woman in the soda shop. He met Martha downtown and fell immediately in love. They wrote back and forth through basic training, and when he returned home briefly for a two week leave, he and Martha married. He loved her deeply, and during their brief time together before he went to war, their love took the form of a growing baby.

In May, Martha went into labor. As she delivered their first born child, a little girl, she wondered what her husband would think of their special gift from God. When the time came for Martha to feed baby Carla for the first time, a young man walked in the room carrying the baby. When he removed the mask from his face, Martha was surprised to be receiving her daughter from the hands of her husband! It was one of the happiest moments of their lives.

From the Japanese theater to the skating rink at Lake Village, the Skating Breadman worked hard to provide for his family, protect their freedom, and serve others. War had not hardened his heart; instead it softened his heart toward others and toward God.

When the Breadman returned from the war, he and his wife had two more boys just 15 months apart. He and his family began attending church together, and the Breadman came to know the Bread of Life – Jesus! Being a man that people followed, many other family members followed his leadership and became Christians as well. He read his Bible frequently and fell in love with Romans, chapter 8. Life was good for this simple hero and his simple family, and his warrior heart was made more tender by the family that surrounded him.

Unfortunately, his fleshly heart was not as strong. At 41, the Skating Breadman drew his last breath and went to be with Jesus while still a young man. He left behind his soda shop sweetheart, his wartime baby, two sons, and me, his baby girl. I was not quite two when he died, and though I don’t remember him, the stories of his life and legacy as a patriot, a Christian, and a servant of others have cast a shadow across my life and heart. While I never had the privilege of seeing the Skating Breadman perform, his heart for God, country, and others beats within me

Copyright © 2004 by Marla Rogers. All rights reserved. Used with permission.