By Sen. John Thune
I’ve worn numerous hats, held a lot of jobs, and had many titles throughout my life. And while being your U.S. senator is one of the most humbling and fulfilling of those experiences, it pales in comparison to being a dad. It’s the most amazing blessing I’ve ever received, and I thank God each day for the privilege of having had the opportunity to raise two strong and confident daughters.
My dad taught me a lot of lessons in life, including that with faith and hard work, all things are possible. Personal responsibility, discipline, patience, and humility were qualities my dad modeled every day, and they are the qualities to which I aspire.
My dad is a very humble guy. When we were growing up, he was “dad,” the guy who always showed up to batting practice, throwing pitch after pitch for me and my teammates. He was the guy who enjoyed the simple things in life, and so loved spending time with his kids that even though he was a teacher, coach, and the athletic director, he still drove the school bus to and from sporting events.
Had it not been for my mom, my siblings and I might never have known that my dad was a fighter pilot and war hero. He flew multiple missions over the Pacific from the USS Intrepid during World War II and even earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded for “heroism or extraordinary achievement.” I don’t know that he ever would have told us about his basketball career either – a hall of famer, nonetheless. In fact, the good people of Murdo were kind enough to name the Murdo City Auditorium after him.
Needless to say, my dad set the bar pretty high.
Being a dad to Larissa and Brittany is the most serious role I’ve undertaken, and I’ve always believed that if you don’t do your best at being a dad, nothing else really matters. My dad proved there’s no greater power than the power of example, and I’ve tried to follow his lead.
Being there for the big moments in the girls’ lives has always been important to me. I can still see Brittany breaking free of my hold for that first bike ride without training wheels. I remember like yesterday pulling Larissa out of a fast-moving creek in the Black Hills, and I will always cherish tucking in the girls each night and reciting our bedtime prayers. I relish the moments – both the good times and the bad – when I could sling my arm around them and offer congratulations or provide the comfort that things will be okay.
Being a dad is more than a job to me. It defines who I am, and it inspires me to be a better person for my family and also for the community I serve. There’s no other job I’d rather have.