I've been blessed many times over in my life, but I'd have to say those gifts started with having a father who is my hero.

After a divorce, he kept custody of and raised three children during a time when that wasn't done. He took on the responsibility because he knew their troubled mother couldn't manage it. I can't begin to list all of his remarkable characteristics, but they all seem etched in the face captured in this picture taken the other day by my niece in Arizona.

Our daughter visited her grandparents last week. I'm so thankful for their time together.

I hope you have a special summertime photo to share, too. If you do, please consider submitting it in our Fourth of July photo contest. The winner will get a pair of movie passes. We also will publish as many entries as possible in the newspaper.

All you need do is go to VictoriaAdvocate.com and upload the photo under the "Fourth of July" category of Your Photos.

Happy Fourth of July, my favorite holiday. Why? Well, I could tell you a lot of stories about setting off fireworks with my dad, but I'll save that for another day.

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Two American originals. Thanks to my niece, Amanda, who is close to my daughter's age, for capturing this magical photo. Can you believe this man turns 80 in September? He graduated from high school the year this Ford 8N tractor was made. I believe him when he tells me they don't make 'em like they used to.