“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

On a scorching hot August afternoon in 2007, Dad and I returned home.

Nearly 50 years since he set sail for the United States and its invigorating promise of unbridled opportunity, we visited a humble stone cube in the small southern Sicilian town of Vittoria.

But my appreciation for Dad's courage was first ignited long before setting foot in his birthplace. Tucked away in a small back room just hours after an errant penalty kick had dashed Italy's hopes of raising the 1994 World Cup trophy, Dad put his arm around me and, in a strong but low voice only slightly louder than a whisper, told me the uncensored story of his transition to life in America as a poor, English-challenged Sicilian immigrant shouldering the load of his widowed mother and four siblings.

It wasn't the last time Dad's strength was required to hold a family together. In 2005, breast cancer stole his wife of 25 years and Mom from my little brother and me.

Courage isn't only found on battlefields and in superhero comic books. With Dad as my guide, I'll use scars left by life's struggles and sorrows as a constant reminder to hold people together, be it family, company, community or country.

"Don't let fear stop you," Mom always told me. Dad didn't.

Neither will I.

— Matthew Puglisi