How Green Was My Valley – The Importance of Strong Family Values
This post is a continuation of a series about movies my stepfather and I watched throughout my adolescence, and the lessons I learned from both him and the films. The first three pieces give a good introduction to the series, so if you haven’t, go read The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man and The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Directed by John Ford, and winner of four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography, How Green was My Valley is a triumph of visual art. Set at the turn of the century in a small mining village in Wales, the film tells the tale of the Morgan family as seen through the eyes of the youngest, Huw. His childlike innocence is apparent as his family goes through several trials including crippling illness, poverty, and an abusive schoolteacher. Through it all, the family stays banded together — drawing strength from each other.
The men of the Morgan family teach young Huw how to box when he encounters a bully at school.
I remember watching this film with my father and being incredibly drawn to the closeness of the Morgan family. From Sunday dinners, to evening Bible readings, they unite together to weather any storm that comes their way. It was this same lesson that my father was teaching me. With family, you can weather anything that comes your way. And when tough times come, lean into them for support. For me personally, there are no two people on this earth I trust more than my parents. They are my go-to when I need advice and wisdom.
In this iconic opening shot, father and son walk together on the side of the Valley overlooking their village.
The film opens with father and son walking through the valley together as the father talks with, and teaches his son. That really is the epitome of the father-son relationship, and the foundation of their ability to face tough times together. I remember times spent with my father. We liked to fish together. This one instance I remember in particular. We were living in Michigan, at the time, and we wanted to go fishing for steelhead. We spent something close to $20 apiece for these special steelhead lures, not including the cost of extra strong fishing line. We got up before the sun was even close to rising and went out on the lake. It was freezing cold and I couldn’t stop shivering. We went out to this little peninsula near a lighthouse, got our poles all ready, and cast out. While reeling in that first cast, my lure got caught on some rocks and the line snapped. I lost my brand new lure and had no hope of catching any steelhead with the bass lures I had in my tackle box.
It would seem like the trip was ruined but it was far from over. For the next hour I sat on my tackle box freezing my butt off while my dad fished. We just spent the time together, talking. I don’t even remember what we talked about. But I remember the experience with fondness. Even though my dad’s line eventually snapped when a steelhead grabbed it and the whole trip, as far as catching fish was concerned, was a complete bust, the fact that my father was willing to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to fish in a freezing Michigan lake just to spend some time with me is a memory I will cherish forever.