Every March on the fourth day of the month my father would inevitably ask my brother and I the same question over breakfast. Groggy with sleep, we were old enough to know going to bed on time would be helpful, but young enough not to drink coffee.
“You know what today is?” he’d ask expectantly, looking at me, and then at my brother.
We’d look back at him, pausing between spoonfuls of Rice Krispies®.
“Today,” he’d begin, pausing for emphasis, “is March forth, the most commanding day of the year.”
Then he’d wait until our blank stares registered recognition of his pun.
“Ha ha, dad,” we’d say and get back to snap, crackle and pop.
I like to think this expression was more than a pun to my father. It also was a subtle reminder to do our best, to keep putting one foot in front of the other and march on, no matter what challenges or obstacles were set in our way.
When we’d arrive home from school, he would ask how our day went. And if we complained about too much homework, he’d gently remind us that it was, in fact, March 4, the most commanding day of the year. But if it wasn’t March 4, we’d still be reminded about the importance of duty and achievement.
And that was the point: Every day is demanding. What breaks the mold is what we accomplish.