The Humble, Lowly, Common Man

Today, my students and I were privileged to hear a beautiful piece of music performed by our capital’s talented symphony.

Photo by Weston Demonbreun (
Photo by Weston Demonbreun (

High-toned brass communicated triumph. Lower timbres gave the piece regal depth. The music swelled with such power and prestige. As I listened, I pictured mountain peaks, soaring birds, grand processions, nobility, and more. Chills spread across my skin, and my heart soared as high as the symphony hall’s gilded ceilings. It wasn’t just the music. It was the title.

Any king would be honored to be represented by the song. In fact, it has been chosen to communicate triumphant entrances by politicians, producers, professional sports teams, and the Queen of England herself. But its composer, Aaron Copeland, instead titled his piece, “Fanfare of the Common Man.”

And, friends, does the common man not deserve fanfare?

Every morning as a girl, I listened to my father’s boot-clad footsteps thud across the floor downstairs as I lay cozy under my quilt, head on my pillow, only half-awake and still half-dreaming. I would listen silently as Dad would microwave his instant coffee, head out into the cold alone, and make the drive (that he still makes today) to his factory far away. Never once did I worry if we’d eat dinner, stay warm, or sleep safe. Dad took care of those things. If he worried about the future, I never knew. Away he’d go, faithfully every morning, to care for us all as we slept in our beds, safely abiding in the home he created for us.

Sometimes, I’d sneak away for a slumber party at a friend’s house. We’d be reminded not to make too much racket as her father, dear to me still, had to work in the morning. We would ignore that request and get carried away telling secrets, writing stories, and giggling through the night. I remember well his patient reminders on a couple of occasions that we needed to stay quiet so that he could sleep. The night would continue with careless ease until we finally settled down, well after midnight. Then, before we drifted off, before the fingers of daylight had even slipped above the horizon, he’d walk through the living room, into the kitchen, heavy boots resounding, and head off to his fire hall to provide for his family and to protect and rescue strangers.

My husband and his sister were raised by their mother and her husband. Though not his father at birth, he became a dad to them in every sense of the word. He taught them, protected them, and provided for them like they were his own. He spent weeks at a time on the road, driving alone as a trucker, while they attended school, stayed home, and led the care-free lives led by well-loved children. When my husband affectionately says, “Dad,” this is the man I instinctively know he is speaking about.

My best friend’s parents separated when she was young. Not long after, while she was still a girl, her mother was in a horrifying collision that left her with several severe health issues that would forever alter her quality of life. Her father could not shake the feeling of responsibility. He has since spent nearly two decades loyally caring for her and raising their daughter virtually alone. He has not asked for praise. He hasn’t held it over anyone’s head or felt entitled to special recognition. He is a man who has dutifully put his family first in spite of intense hardship.

Mr. S’s very own dirty boots.

I now watch my own husband show love in more ways than I could imagine. He has started my car and brewed my coffee on cold mornings. He has worked through the night in sub-zero temperatures to serve our city and provide for our family. He has traveled around the country and world to serve our country. He has run on virtually no sleep without complaint to care for his family. He dutifully gets our oil changed, takes out the trash, walks the dog, and serves me daily. He has reminded me to rest, to eat, to sleep, to relax, and more for my own good.

I propose that every one of these men deserves a fanfare of their own. Because the act of leading and protecting a family is as important and noble as anything worth writing in the pages of a history book.

Quietly, men around us toil and overcome the world day after day.

Whether a man waits tables with excellence and care, writes laws to improve our cities, prepares in singleness for a family of his own, collects the garbage while others sleep, leads a ministry through prayer and intentional seeking, or makes sales with integrity, I propose that he is worth celebrating just as he is.

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