I can remember bouncing on your lap when I was about three. I remember the silly gifts you’d give, your incredible sense of humor, your amazing model of how to be a father and grandfather, and how to this day, I consider you the most brilliant man I’ve ever known. I remember your hugs and kisses; your tickles every time we were together. I remember your “I love you, Tommy. I’m so proud of you”, stated well over a million times.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to greatly respect your service and sacrifice for our country. As you fought oversees, you risked it all, so that today we could be free. As I continue to hear stories about your past, and learn how you passed on promotion after promotion at IBM to be with your family, I applaud your courage, values, and always putting our family first.
I applaud your patriotism. If there was ever someone who embodied pride in God, service and country, it was you. Your stories and pushing us to ‘always do they right thing, even when no one is looking”, and to always “stand up for what you believe”, are things that have always been attached to my heart.
Losing you a few years ago was amazingly hard. Speaking at your funeral was one of the most difficult moments of my life. Words can never explain our love and gratefulness for your love. Our family lost its leader; but your love and impact are felt every day, even years later.
I was recently remind that one should display a sign of patriotism when walking into our nation’s capital buildings. I immediately thought of your American flag pin, the one you gave me a few days before you passed. It’s the same one you wore every day for as long as I can remember. I’ve never felt worthy of wearing it. I never thought I deserved the privilege; always trying to live to your high standards and patriotic, loving heart. Since your passing, it’s sat on my nightstand – a comforting reminder of your love, intellect, and ‘stand up for what you believe’ mentality.
Today, as I walk into The House, to testify in front of Congress for the very first time, I’ll wear it on my suit, over my heart. I’ll wear your American flag for the first time — and know that you are with me.
Today I’ll stand up for our nation’s children. I’ll fight for our schools, and work to help Congress understand that the needs of our children are real, and it’s our obligation to give them our all, in every classroom across this great country. Today, I’ll stand up, as you taught me, for what I believe in.
I’ll make you proud Grandpa. I promise. Love you.