The Wild Side for Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons learned from dad

Happy Father’s Day.

That comes with the hope you have the chance to hale your dad with those words. Mine is not here and I sure do miss him, and I know my wife misses her dad, too.

It comes with the wish that our sons enjoy this day, too, because this is the first time when both of them can claim this day as fathers (OK, one of them is a soon-to-be dad.)

There are minutes every Father’s Day when thoughts come about my dad and folks of his generation and what they gave from their lives so we might enjoy simple outdoor pleasures.

My dad left home in September 1942 and returned home in February 1946. His hometown newspaper erroneously listed him “killed in action,” and my aunts told the story about having to keep that daily issue hidden from my grandmother because there had been no telegram advising them that anything like that had happened to him in France.

He returned home a much decorated veteran (although he never talked about that until his last years with us) and continued to serve in the Army Reserves for another 30 years.

And he loved and worked for his family, his God and alma mater (LSU). As a kid, you couldn’t ask for more.

Except these days, many of us baby boomers should wonder what these men, most of whom have left us, would think about what’s here now so many years after they gave so much from their young lives. It’s a government not so much bound by laws as by catering to one whim after another.

Maybe, in the grand scheme, fishing isn’t that big a deal, nor is the act of catching fish something we need to rank among the privileges afforded us in our free country.

Then again, maybe it is: If there was one thing my dad saw in his young life and took time to relate to his oldest son, it was that he watched citizens of other countries give away their freedoms one by one until they had none, then turned to his country, its people and his friends to return their freedoms. He did that. So did my wife’s father and millions of men and women. His Purple Hearts and the graves we visited in France, The Netherlands and Luxembourg showed blood restored those lost freedoms.

My dad’s lesson was that when you begin to relinquish whatever freedoms you hold dear, where do you stop?

In the last years, we’ve allowed our government to take full control of our fisheries, even going so far as to eliminate our right to fish on public lands.

We’ve allowed our government to hand control of our fisheries to a handful of bureaucrats who have ignored Congressional mandates to replace outmoded management practices and employ new systems and mechanisms to better manage our fisheries.

In short, we’ve allowed a very few to claim ownership of our fisheries.

The question today is to decide whether we’ve given away something very valuable, and whether it’s worth fighting to get it back?