In two days on Sunday, June 21, it will be Father’s Day in the United States. For more than a century this special day has been set aside every third Sunday in June in the U.S. Other nations have their own versions of this day, some countries celebrating their fathers as far back as the Middle Ages.

My own father passed away seven years ago from cancer. A veteran of the U.S. Army, a barber, an insurance salesman, an oil company manager, a department store employee, he was many things during his life. But those were just his jobs. He also boxed as a younger man and studied judo. He had a fantastic and oddball sense of humor which I’ve somewhat inherited. He liked to read and study philosophy and religion, other traits I’ve inherited. He enjoyed the outdoors, liked going to movies, and loved his coffee and cigarettes. He also liked his liquor a little too much, but that was a demon he eventually won out against.

He was my father, a tall, slender man from the mountains of Kentucky, and I wouldn’t have asked for any other. I loved him then and I love him now, and I wish he was still with us. There are so many things I would like to show him, to talk with him about, and people I’d like to introduce to him. My girlfriend Rebecca never knew him, but I’m positive she would like him and he would like her.

But I’m not the only one with a father. All of us have fathers, at least biologically. It is an unfortunate truth that some of us have had bad fathers and some of us might not even know who our father is. For those individuals I am truly sorry they missed out on having a great father, and I can only hope other aspects of life have been more kind to them.

Fortunately many of us have had great fathers. My own dad wasn’t always perfect, something with which he would wholeheartedly agree, but one doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good father. One has to be present when it’s important to be. One has to be brave enough to share at the right moments. A sense of humor helps. Being loving in one’s own way also can help. There are a hundred or more traits that could make up a good father.

Just … if you’re a father, try to be the best one you can. Not only does your family deserve the best of you, but by being a good father you are making the world a better place. And if you’re not a father but you had a good one, call them up or drop by and let them know how much you appreciate them. Maybe they really need the attention and the love. And by doing so, you also would be making the world a better place.

For many of us, our fathers are our heroes. Often they were our first heroes. This month we honor them.