His name is Major Barry Franks.

For some reason, he came to my mind several times these last couple of weeks. He played an invaluable role in guiding our daughter Lauren when she was in JROTC. Major Franks got to know Lauren, brought out the talents he saw in her, helped her develop in areas where she needed training, and encouraged her all along the way. Under Major Franks’ leadership and direction Lauren tried new things like competing in the USMC Mud Run in Columbia, SC and later as the Commandant for the one hundred plus Cadets her senior year. Major Franks nominated Lauren to attend West Point but sadly did not live to see her graduate.

Major Franks came to my mind when I was running; I guess, because he was a runner before me. He came to my mind because I am still grateful to this day for all he did for our daughter, and hundreds and hundreds of other sons and daughters he led in JROTC and throughout his life. He led with integrity. He led with honesty. He led with character.

So to all you coaches, teachers, JROTC Instructors, mentors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, youth ministers and all who interact with youth, thank you. Thank you for the positive impact you can have in leading our youth. Please remember the great influence you can have in helping them discern their way in life and encouraging them in their development. It is a sacred trust, one that Major Franks performed admirably.

God’s peace and my gratitude,

Pastor Jon