Walking The Great Bridge of Brooklyn With My Father

“The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, as the first steel-wire suspension bridge.

Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge in a January 25, 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become the iconic part of the New York skyline. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historical Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.” (Wikipedia).

I had heard of the Brooklyn Bridge but never thought much of it till my Dad came a few years ago to visit me and my brother. He had the visiting of, and walking across of, on his ‘bucket list’ of things to do before leaving this world. So we made it a point to do so. My Dad had read “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough and had an appreciation for the bridge that neither I nor my brother had gained. I have since talked to a couple of people who have read McCullough’s book, and they too were impressed with its rich history and cultural significance.

My father, brother and I arrived at the bridge late afternoon. The skies were overcast and the 1.3 mile hike across the bridge became 2.6 when you took in the return. We parked our car on the Brooklyn side of the bridge in a parking garage.  We stopped to get a bottle of water and then started our journey. I don’t know what I expected but the hike wasn’t anything I thought it would be. There were hundreds going over “The Great Bridge”, most on foot; some on bikes. A sort of walkway made of wood had been erected over top of the traffic to make the hike accessible and non-perilous to the general public. Most were dressed like they were walking in the mall. Crossing the bridge were people of all ages, although it looked to me like my Dad was one of the oldest. (84 at the time) It was rather crowded at times, with people passing you going the other way and bikers whizzing by. The cars and trucks thundered beneath our feet, but at times you couldn’t hear them at all due to the construction of the walkway. By all accounts, I guess you could call it an ordinary” walk, except….! One, of course, was the magnificent view! The skyline of Manhattan in all it’s beauty with the Statue of Liberty in the distance and the ghosts of Ellis Island whispering “Come one, come all” whispering in the wind is something you don’t forget. Then there is the beauty of the bridge itself that stands as a monument to the ingenuity of its builders.

However, I guess what was most “un-ordinary” about the walk over the Brooklyn Bridge was the fact that I was walking it with my father. He not only took on the bridge with determination, he hiked across it and back as if on the legs of a thirty year old. He is a marvel; not just in a physical way! My brother and I were talking just last month about his life. Raised on a small farm, he became converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ as a teenager and never looked back. He married my mom at nineteen in the Salt Lake Temple, then left his new bride to go on a full-time mission for the church. Upon returning from his mission the ensuing years found him returning to school, graduating and leaving for Washington D.C. (George Washington University Law School) with nothing but a hope and a dream. Within ten years of marriage he had eight kids. As my brother, (both of us have five kids), once said regarding that issue “What a man!” All the while my Dad labored to support and raise a family he was finishing his law degree, and serving faithfully in the church. No small task for a young man of thirty! Still years later he would take upon himself two additional children that were in need of a good home. And the truth is I don’t know the half of all the good works he has done. He isn’t one for boasting!

So, on that day, on that bridge, I saw the beautiful handiwork of man. But of more import was that I got to walk across it with the great handiwork of God; my father. As we walked together, I discovered, that I wasn’t walking “over” the “Great Bridge”, I was walking “with” it. It is my father who instilled in me the “literal and genuinely religious leap of faith” that has embodied his life. For because of him, I have spent my life in pursuit of the things of God. In the end, that is all I will be able to take with me! My faith, my hope, and my dreams are founded in the Plan of Salvation, of which my Father taught me. My Father has since passed!  If you haven’t yet, before it’s too late; find a bridge, and walk it with your Dad.

So to you Dad, thank you for your kindness and goodness, but most of all, for your example of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that has blessed the lives of countless individuals! The Brooklyn Bridge will always be ours!

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