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I learned from my father the meaning of courage

Joined: 6/18/2011
Posts: 1
I always thought my dad was some sort of magical being who had the remedy or answer to everything. At age five, he pulled out my first baby tooth. For that, I called him my own personal dentist. Throughout elementary school when my appearance was not at the top of my priority list, he cut my hair with scissors straight from his desk drawer. For that, my dad was a barber. During middle school, he gave me impromptu lessons about economics, epidemiology, and life in general. For that, he was a teacher—the best teacher I knew.
Fast forward to high school. In history class, we were learning about 20th century happenings in China, one of the few topics that I actually paid attention to because it pertained to my parents’ native country. I had come to class particularly tired one day, but something the teacher said during his lecture about the Tiananmen Square student protests woke me up.
“June 4, 1989.”
This wasn’t the first time I had heard this date. The month, day, and year were something more than just numbers and letters, but I couldn’t bring myself to recall the significance. The first thing I did when I got home was ask my dad about the date, since I recalled him mentioning it once or twice before. He grinned and briefly spoke about being a student leader on June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square, and even during the month beforehand. He had been a college student studying at Renmin University of China (or People’s University of China).
From what I had gathered from the day’s lecture in history class, the student leaders in Tiananmen Square were asking the government for freedom of the press, democracy, and the funding of education, among other demands. Some concerns were even addressed willingly by the government. But it wasn’t just a simple, peaceful protest. Tables turned on July 4 when Chinese soldiers were ordered into Beijing streets near the Square to drive people away by whatever means possible, including through violence. It suddenly made sense why my dad has always been such a firm believer in his own ideas and unwilling to give into others.
It stuns me to imagine my dad standing in Tiananmen Square, supposedly the largest public area in the world, heading a group of other determined 20-somethings against a body that had so long held power. To imagine him in a chaotic whirlwind of soldiers, fleeing bodies, and gunfire. To imagine him putting the well-being of future generations above his own life by fighting for what he knew was right. To believe that if the man whom I called “dad” is able to do all this, then surely I can conquer my fear of heights or push myself a fraction harder in a workout. For that, I know that beyond his kind and goofy, yet somewhat intimidating exterior, my dad is a tooth-pulling, hair-cutting, educating, and above all, the most courageous man I know.
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Comment by mcoly618

Joined: 5/2/2009
Posts: 472
Hi, I'm the PR Coordinator for Stage of Life. I'm leaving you this comment to let you know that your essay for our Teens and Parents writing contest was one of the finalists. Congratulations!

Here's the link to the contest summary page. We'll be formally announcing the winner soon.

Feel free to share this news with your friends and family. To be named an essay finalists in our national writing competition is a big deal. Our previous winners have been talked about on and other media outlets.

Congrats again. We look forward to seeing more of your essays/writing on Thanks for helping us in our mission of creating the world's largest pool of cross-generational stories.
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 4:21:47 PM
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Comment by mcoly618

Joined: 5/2/2009
Posts: 472
I wanted to personally let you know that your essay is a runner up for the June 2011 writing contest.


Thanks for sharing your voice on We look forward to reading more of your viewpoints on the site!
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 6:23:05 PM
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