Here’s food for thought

Published 2:03 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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The mind is a funny thing. When I sat down to write today I thought of the Ides of March. Subconsciously I must have remembered that March 15, the day I’m writing, corresponds to the 74th day in the Roman calendar. It was marked by several religious observances, and in Roman times it was a deadline for settling debts. But I remember it from Senior English as the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination.

My dad, I.W. Ball Jr., was a decorated war hero and an English and American history teacher. He fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa as well as many other places. He was actually wounded on three separate occasions, but back in the day they patched the soldiers up and sent them off to fight again.

I framed my dad’s citation when he received the Silver Star medal for gallantry in action. It has a place of honor in my dining room along with a photo of him in his Marine Corps uniform reading a letter from my Mama Ball. From time to time I like to read about his bravery in action and how he went above and beyond the call of duty to win the battle.

His citation states that he was fearless and aggressive, and unhesitatingly risked his life. It further states that he pressed forward alone, boldly charged, and defeated the enemy so that his troops could advance. In a very real way he fought so that we could enjoy freedom, and I am eternally grateful that he and so many other brave men and women gave so much for this country.

When I think of my dad and all he sacrificed both on that fateful day on an island in the Pacific and during his lifetime I am proud. His sacrifice challenges me to be better and braver and stronger as I fight my own battles. I don’t want to stand in a defensive position, but I want to boldly charge the enemy just as my dad did.

My daddy was only a man, and had frailties and made mistakes as all men do, but when it really counted he ran into the battle. We are all facing a battle of some sort whether it’s an addiction, unforgiveness, fear, or pride. I’m so grateful that I had a father who would fight for his country and his beliefs, but I’m even more grateful than I have a heavenly father who gave everything He had for anyone who would come to Him on bended knee and ask for forgiveness and a new life.

Sometimes I look around and see so much confusion and evil in this world that I’m tempted to hide away and give in to fear. I once heard a wise woman say that courage is not the absence of fear, but it is taking action even when we feel afraid. What does that look like in my own life or yours? I guess that’s food for thought.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at