Boys Need Men

Note: The following is an excerpt from a speech by Marion D. Hanks, a religious leader speaking to a group of men and boys. It was delivered in April of 1974.

“For how shall I go up to my father and the lad [is] not with me…” (Gen. 44:34.)

I wonder how many of you young men and men who are a little older have heard the story of the man in the brown leather jacket. A famous surgeon received a phone call one night from a doctor friend who said he had a young child on the operating table and needed the surgeon’s help in order to save the child. It was a long drive across town to the hospital and the surgeon drove as fast as he could with safety. As he pulled up to a stop sign, a man wearing a brown leather jacket opened the door and slid in beside him with his hand in his pocket as though he had a gun. The man was excited, demanded the surgeon’s car, and obviously was in no mood to discuss it. The surgeon stood helplessly on the highway as the man in the brown leather jacket sped away in his car.

By the time the surgeon finally arrived at the hospital, it was too late. The child had died only moments before. The other doctor asked the surgeon to come with him to meet the child’s father in the hope that together they might offer him words of comfort. As they entered the waiting room, the father came forward—he was the man in the brown leather jacket.

It occurs to me to wonder whether any of us here tonight are, in a different sense, men in brown leather jackets, who, through our lack of wisdom, perhaps not knowing it, certainly not wishing it, keep spiritual help from reaching our children when they need it…

Now let me finish, if I may, with two very brief accounts of two great fathers.

 A young lad stood at the pulpit in Sunday School trying to give an assigned talk, but he could not get the words out. His giant of a father walked from the congregation to stand beside his son, put his arm around him, and said, “I know Larry has prepared his talk and that he’ll be able to give it. He is a little frightened, so I’ll just speak to you for a moment and then I know he’ll be ready.” The father stood by his boy with his arm around him, and in a moment the lad gave his talk. And many wept.

A while ago I met a special boy, and this week I had the privilege of spending some time with him and his family. This boy has muscular atrophy. He is a remarkable young man, loved by everyone in the ward. He has always wanted to do the things the other fellows do. He has succeeded in Cub Scouting. He is now a First Class Scout and is progressing.

While Jay was a deacon, he passed the sacrament with the others. He can’t walk or stand on his feet, so his dad lined up with the other boys, holding Jay with his strong arm around his waist and helping him hold the tray, since his hands are not strong enough to support it. Jay’s father thus assisted his son from row to row as he passed the sacrament. Jay did a great job as a deacon collecting fast offerings too. His dad carried him from door to door. Can you imagine that scene on the doorstep?

Jay bears a strong testimony; his attitude and outlook are amazing. He gives talks and does well. He has sung in Church, and always when he does these things, his dad is there to hold him in his arms and stand by him and support him.

In all my life I never heard a sweeter story nor a more moving one. God bless such a father, and God bless such a son…God bless us all, boys and men, now and in the future, always to act in a way that will help others enjoy the special blessings God wants them to have.

Watch the full address below:

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