Opinion Pieces

Honor Fathers This Sunday

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Washington, June 10, 2008 | Ashley Tanks (770-210-5073) | comments
It is often unknown that Title IV of the United States Code contains an entire set of laws governing the usage and display of the United States flag. Collectively known as the U.S. Flag Code, these laws encourage us to fly the flag every day, but especially on a number of significant federal, religious and cultural holidays. For many years, this list of occasions has included Flag Day, which we will celebrate on June 14, Veterans Day, President's Day, Columbus Day and even Mother's Day. Over the past few years, the list was amended to include the observance of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday, in honor of the outstanding contributions he made in advancing civil rights for all Americans.

Until last week, however, Father’s Day was excluded from this list of important occasions on which to fly the flag. Thankfully, this situation was remedied on June 4 as President Bush signed into law H.R. 2356, legislation I introduced, which adds Father’s Day to this list of holidays. Finally, our flag code rightfully reflects the important roles of both men and women in raising children.

Now, more than ever, we need to emphasize the significance of fathers in our nation’s communities. In neighborhoods plagued by crime and violence, so much can be attributed to the absence of fathers and other positive role models. Over the last four decades, research has shown an unprecedented rise in the number of fatherless homes in this nation, especially at the time a child first enters this world. The National Fatherhood Initiative indicates that children from families with fathers are five times less likely to be poor. What is the answer to poverty then? We must implore the men who father children to behave as fathers—to take care and be responsible for the welfare of their children.

I am pleased significant progress is being made in my Congressional district. Fathers are making a difference in the lives of Clayton County children by participating in the Clayton County Fatherhood Initiative Partnership, a coalition of eight county groups, state and local governmental agencies and several faith-based organizations. The partnership’s mission is to strengthen the relationship between fathers and children to reverse this very dangerous trend of absentee fathers. Last year, this organization received a grant from the National Fatherhood Initiative to facilitate activities that address many of these issues including parenting classes, relationship counseling sessions, single father support groups, programs for incarcerated fathers and workforce development activities to name a few. The greatest role models for our young people must be their fathers and I laud this partnership for the important work they are doing everyday.

I want to note that many children from single-parent families have been raised to be upstanding and successful members of our communities. However, as a leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, I must continue to emphasize my support for the important roles that fathers play in raising young people.

The Lord commands us to “Honor thy father and thy mother so that thy days will be long in the land.” This weekend, as we celebrate both Flag Day and Father’s Day, I hope you will take a moment to honor and acknowledge the fathers in your family and the role models in your neighborhoods and communities. Although just a small gesture, the enactment of this law makes a bold and much-needed statement about the importance of fatherhood to our nation and in sustaining our communities for future generations.

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