For You, Dad.

Jack Marshall Sr Army portraitI lost my dad, Jack Marshall, Sr., five years ago today, and for some reason the loss feels especially sharp right now. This has been another miserable birthday, but not so miserable as that one, and I found myself once again revisiting my father’s favorite poem, which was a personnel credo for him and which has often served me well in hard times too. It is linked in the “Inspiration” section on the  Ethics Alarms home page, as well as quoted in my post here on the day my father was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Nonetheless, I am going to post Rudyard Kipling’s “If” once again. My father’s favorite line was…

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
That was Dad to the core. He never looked back, never cursed his luck, never thought too highly of himself (or anyone else), always believed in tomorrow, and that no victory was final, and no defeat was forever. And I know he was right, though it doesn’t often feel like it. So this is for you, Dad. Thanks for everything.


If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs, and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet, don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves, to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop, and build ’em up, with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn, long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—

You’ll be a Man, my son!


13 thoughts on “For You, Dad.

  1. Excellent! I’ve always loved that poem. And my dad, who was a man according to Kipling, and according to me.
    I lost my dad in November, too, 21 years ago and it still isn’t much easier than it was then.

    • I lost my dad in November, too, 21 years ago and it still isn’t much easier than it was then.
      My dad’s been gone ten years, I can’t believe how much I still miss him.
      Not to mention all of the times I could have used his advice.

  2. Nice remembrance,Jack. I, too lost my father five years ago (this past July) and am forever grateful for all he taught me about being a good man and how to live a life of integrity no matter what circumstances one faces. Most of his lessons were taught purely by example. I was lucky to have him as a father, and I miss him every day.

  3. Hey, Jack! I know all too well the pain of losing a parent. I’m sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for sharing the poem. My fifth grade teacher, Sylvia Sewell, made us memorize and recite this poem. I will share it with my daughter this week during our drive to school. I appreciate your focus and reminder!!

    Enjoy the rest of your week!

  4. I read your blog daily and find it informative, thought provoking and, quite honestly motivating. (For the record, I never.. ok rarely, comment out of fear of embarrassing myself due to my lack of intellect.)

    That said, my father instilled in me the idea that it is important to tell people when they matter or they mean something to you. Never assume they “just know it”. So in honor of my father, and yours, who by all accounts was a great man, thank you for what you do here. It matters. And I’m sorry you are having a rough time.

  5. My dad Eric died last August 2013, so I’m still pretty raw. Dad wasn’t much on poetry (WW2 veteran, I’m not sure he ever got over it, what he saw, what he did). ‘Never volunteer for anything, if someone starts talking to you about religion just say you are Calathumpian, don’t let the bastards grind you down’ these are the verbal wisdom I receved,.

    Goodbye Eric, Father, accomplice.
    My playmate, critic and strongest ally.
    The standard I could never meet,
    My hero, my cowboy
    And, best of all, in later years, my friend.

    All the best Jack.

  6. Jack, thank you. I never knew my father, and was stuck with a step-father of dubious worth. I found out just recently that my actual Dad was a career Marine in WWII and Korea, Staff Sergeant and Fleet Marine on the ENTERPRISE. He passed away in 1995, and from what I was told by my Aunt, he was as good a man as you Dad. With your permission, I would like to send this particular post to my grandchildren.

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