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June is a month that I look forward to with special anticipation every year. June is the harbinger of all the delightful treats of summer. It promises a break from structured routine, the adventure of a vacation, and happiness ignited by flowers bursting open to spill their glorious colors. June is the traditional wedding month, a celebration of abiding love. It’s also the month in which we honor our fathers. And this celebration is not limited to just our own fathers. This occasion embraces our grandfathers, our uncles, our husbands—any male figure who has provided a warm lap, a comforting shoulder, a firm hand, a word of sage advice, or a path to follow. That’s a lot to celebrate!

My own father was a remarkable man. Even though he only received formal education through the eighth grade, he made it his lifelong practice to develop his mind by reading and to respect his body through healthful living and exercise. He provided a model that was not lost on his children. He valued the art of learning. In large part, I think his example is what initially drew me to the philosophy of Dr. Suzuki.

My father taught me that there’s a difference between training and education. Training allows us to cultivate a certain set of skills in order to perform a specific task. Education teaches us to think and to synthesize ideas. My father wanted me to have both. This, I think, is what Dr. Suzuki wished for all children. He wanted each child to have the benefit of excellent training so that he/she would become a skilled musician. He also wanted each child to be educated so that he/she would become a thinking human being, able to recognize beauty in all things.

This Father’s Day, I will not be giving any ties or #1 Dad coffee mugs wrapped in bright packages. This year I will pay special tribute to all of the men who have shaped my life in small or vivid ways. I will thank them with a star in the SAA Galaxy of Stars. I hope it will capture the essence of Father’s Day by making their smiles bright and their hearts swell. The tribute reads:

“Happy Father’s Day to all of the men who have inspired, trained, and educated me. I am the amalgamation of many distinguished individuals and I am forever honored to have shared a continuum of time and knowledge.”