Footsteps of a Father

General Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee is no doubt one of the most respected figures to ever walk the stage of human history. He was loved by his soldiers, revered by his peers, respected by his enemies, and even his former slaves and servants cherished the time they were given to be with him. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was so respected that President Abraham Lincoln offered him the position of Commander of the Union Forces. Lee’s response was that he would not take sides in the conflict, and would only draw a sword if it were necessary in the defense of Virginia.

Posterity has placed Robert E. Lee in the unique position of being one of the most respected military figures of all time. Today however, I am not here to talk about Robert E. Lee the General, but Robert E. Lee the father.

Prior to the unpleasantness of 1861, while Lee’s children were still young, he went out early one morning for a walk. A gentle snow had fallen the night before, and there was a beautiful blanket of snow covering the path. As he walked along, he could hear the faint sound of small footsteps behind him. Lee looked back and found that his little boy Custis was behind him, imitating his every move and walking in the very tracks the father had made in the snow. Step for Step the boy was struggling to ensure that each of his steps fell in the exact footprint left by his father.

"When I saw this," Lee told one of his friends long afterwards, "I said to myself, ’it behooves me to walk very straight when this fellow is already following in my tracks.’ "

Lee’s story is a reminder to all Dads . . . We must remember that our actions speak so loudly that our children can barely hear our words.


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