“Are you Jasper McClellan’s son?” “Si, Senor,” I would reply. “Please honor us by having supper with us tonight!”
So it went in town after Mexican town. It seemed that my father was known in nearly every village, town and city in Mexico as he purchased more than 300 properties and supervised the construction of 30 churches and as many schools. I came along later as an instructional supervisor of ten of those schools located on the west coast and southeastern Mexico. Everywhere I went, my father was known and because of him doors opened for me.
I’ve often wondered, “What if my Dad had been some kind of scoundrel? How would things have been different for me?” Because he had a good name, people assumed that I was one of the good guys, too: “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree syndrome.”
During 34 years as a school administrator in Mexico and Texas, I had many boys and girls come into my office in some kind of trouble ranging from dress code violations to possessing weapons or drugs on school property. To many of them I posed the same question, “What does your name mean to you?”
“When people hear the name, Domingo Garcia,” I would say, “how do they think of you? You see, your name is like the American flag—it is a symbol. It stands for something. Your name represents you and who and what you are. Does it represent something that is thought of positively or otherwise?
“When a teacher hears your name mentioned, is it with a groan or does she think, ‘Hey, Domingo tries hard and is a good role model. I think I can use him on my blue ribbon committee!’ When your name comes up do doors open for you or do they close in your face?”
I believe our names are like bank accounts. We make deposits or we make withdrawals. By our daily relationships with people and by our actions, we either add to their value or we diminish them.
I was never the ideal child growing up and I got into my share of scrapes by doing dumb things, but I had enough respect for my parents that I would do nothing intentionally to discredit them or their good names. They’re both gone now but I try to honor their memories by giving my own children, hopefully, a name that will bring them honor.
I believe our names must be protected and considered things of great value. Even our Creator wants His name used judiciously: “Don’t take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” He warns. His name is to be held sacred. How do we look upon our own names? If ours need some polishing, like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” there’s still time for a change.