by Lynette Holloway
CHICAGO, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Rebecca L. Stinson still recalls the poignant letters of encouragement she received from her father in Chicago as a college student in Washington, D.C. while she earned her education degree.
The Chicago Police Detective who died 13 years ago encouraged her to receive a good education and to be an independent thinker. His advice helped shape her life as a daughter, woman, wife, mother, teacher, friend and now as a principal of Claremont Math, Science, and Technology Academy on Chicago's South Side in Englewood, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.
"My father was smart and fiercely intuitive," Stinson told Xinhua in an interview. "He was such a great father. He passed along some great lessons and advice to me. When I need to hear his voice or draw on some of that strength, I pull out those letters that I have stored away. I love him for that."
Stinson, mother of two grown daughters, said she plans reflect on her father's memory with quiet time on Father's Day on Sunday like she does every year.
She is not alone. On Father's Day on Sunday, scores of Americans will to pay tribute to fathers, those alive and deceased, through family-oriented activities, such as breakfast, brunch, dinner and other celebrations.
"It's an important event," said Tressa Epps, an events planner in Chicago. "People like to pay tribute to mothers and fathers."
Indeed, President Barack Obama quickly put fatherhood first when he was elected to office in 2009, taking family vacations with first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia. As someone who grew up without a father in the household, fatherhood is important to him. He has said being a father is "the most important jobs he has."
For years, he has worked to improve fatherlessness in America, from supporting local fatherhood programs to encouraging personal responsibility.
On Wednesday, he reinforced that goal. During a screening of the movie Cars 2 for military fathers and families, he unveiled a program called "Strong Fathers, Strong Families" as part of his " Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative."
"It's an effort with partners from around the nation to create simple opportunities for dads and kids to connect," Michael Strautmanis, counselor in the Office of Public Engagement, wrote on the White House Blog. "Whether it's a free game of bowling, a Major League Baseball or WNBA game, a visit to the zoo or aquarium, or discounts for dads and kids through partners like Groupon and LivingSocial, we're excited to help create small moments that can have a big impact."
Further, President Obama recently wrote an essay for People magazine about being the father he never had and growing up without a dad in the house. His experience was not atypical. Scores of children grow up in households without dads. According to the U.S. Census, nearly one in three children in the nation grow up without a father.
Other politicians are taking the president's lead and are being more emphatic about the importance of fatherhood. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and former Obama White House chief of staff, reportedly calls his father daily and receives a special Father's Day gift every year from wife Amy: a photo album of what his three children did the past year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
And once seen as the scourge as examples of fatherhood, athletes are beginning to be viewed as models of success. On Thursday, Miami Heat basketball star Dwayne Wade was awarded the Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative for " giving dads everywhere a great example of what it means to be an involved, responsible, and committed father." Wade recently won custody of his children.
"I am so thrilled to be given this award, especially because it is in recognition of the most important thing in my life, my kids, " Wade said in a prepared statement. "Nothing in the world compares to the happiness that they bring me each and every day. I know that my biggest responsibility is to be there for them 100 percent and to demonstrate to other fathers that it is possible to be a strong male figure in your children's lives regardless of what else is going on in your life."
For her part, Darya Johnson, a stylist in Chicago's South Loop, said she would celebrate Father's Day with her husband Albert, who is an exemplary dad in their blended family of seven children, ranging in ages 23 to 6.
"He is a true provider in the sense of being there," Johnson said of her husband. "I love him for that. He cares about our safety and wellbeing. And all of the kids are treated according to their strengths and personality. We have family meetings to review their goals. We help them sort out issues. We're there for them. That's what fatherhood is about. They are being raised."
Jamie Payne, whose father passed away four years ago will celebrate her father's memory with quiet time on Sunday. The TV producer, who lives in Chicago, said her father, James W. Payne, had a monumental impact on her life.
"My father taught me by his actions alone," Payne said, "which were to treat people the way you want to be treated, be confident in who you are and use every talent that God has blessed you with for the service of others. My father's life on earth was mostly to serve others and today I make sure that I am a replica of that continued service. As I pursue my goals and dreams, I use those same actions to help others achieve their dreams and goals as well. So in short, if everyone took that same mindset, our accomplishments would be endless and doors of opportunity will continue to open. Thanks Daddy for your service, not only to your family, friends, loved ones, but in the community as well. I love you."