Last year, President Barack Obama made a Father's Day Presidential Proclamation, which is excerpted below:
On Father's Day, we honor the men whose compassion and commitment have nourished our spirits and guided us toward brighter horizons. For many of us, our fathers show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, they teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the limits they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulty and hardship. Our fathers impart lessons and values we will always carry with us. With their presence and their care, they not only fulfill a profound responsibility, but also share a blessing with their children that stands among our truest traditions.
"Daddy," as I call him, is the embodiment of this spirit. Born in a small town in Sumatra, Indonesia, right after the end of World War I, Daddy is a tough and resilient man. During his childhood years under the Dutch colonial eras, his family was able to afford him and his siblings the rare opportunity for high-quality education. During World War II, however, the Japanese invaded and occupied Indonesia and Dad's family lost almost everything. After Indonesia gained independence in 1945, Daddy moved to the capital city of Jakarta to try to build a path for himself. Enduring many hardships, trials and tribulations, he worked hard for more than three decades before eventually succeeded in building a respectable enterprise. In some ways, my Dad is both extraordinary and ordinary; and in both ways, he imparts many lessons and values that I will always carry with me, three of which are shared below.
I learned to be independent at a young age. I moved to the United States, a country more than 10,000 miles away, alone for schooling. Although I had visited the U.S. for vacation before, I had never lived separately from my parents. The thoughts of going to a new country so far away at such a young age excited me and frightened me. I still remember how I cried on the plane, thinking about Daddy and my two childhood dogs -- Bobbi and Sloggie -- that I left back home. My Mom had accompanied me on that trip to help me set up at the dorm, but of course, even she eventually had to go back home. Just like how my Dad moved to a far-away place at a young age, I learned the importance of being able to be independent and responsible for one's own at a young age.
Deliver Instead of Talking
I learned that actions speak louder than words. Some people may say a lot of nice things, promise all kinds of things, but seldom deliver. Talking is easy, making it happen is a completely different thing. Dad taught me that delivering on what you promise, or at least be accountable for it, is very important and is what builds one's reputation. Words are cheap, actions are what truly count.
I understand the importance to have a vision and building a plan and working hard to achieve it. There are some people who want to be successful, but are not willing to put in the hard work and sacrifices to achieve their goals. This is especially true for some younger generations who grow up during economic boom times and may choose to take the roads of least resistance. Young people also sometimes fail to appreciate the hardships that their parents or previous generations put in to enable them better opportunities in life. As someone once told me, vision without execution is hallucination.
Respect and Embrace Diversity
We live in a diverse world of almost seven billion people. It is bound that we will meet people from different cultural, religious, political and socio-economic backgrounds. In the 21st century global village, borders are disappearing and we become more and more interconnected. In this interconnected world, it is of utmost importance that the world's citizens have a truly global perspective and embrace our differences and celebrate our similarities.
Diversity means much more than differences in race, national origin or gender. It can mean differences, and thus richness, in perspectives and life experiences. Born as an ethnic and religious minority in Indonesia, Dad embraced his heritage while at the same time respected others' perspectives, choices and ways of living. Instead of letting his minority status hampered him, he embraced it and worked hard to be inclusive in his journey to achieve his goals. His wisdom and success modeled for me the flexibility and commitment that enabled a person to overcome challenges and reveal ways to navigate issues surrounding diversity.
One excellent way to foster acceptance of diverse peoples is to travel and see how similar and interconnected we all are. We who are fortunate enough to travel have a duty to foster cultural understanding at home and abroad and foster acceptance! I have also embraced diversity fully by studying, working and living in three continents. Throughout my travels, I have succeeded in building meaningful personal and professional relationships. My lifelong friends comprise men and women who come from all over the world and who mirror the global community we live in today.
As we celebrate Father's Day, let's not forget to call your fathers and fathers figures to show them how much you appreciate what they have done for you. Happy Father's Day, Daddy! From your daughter 10,000 miles away.