Don’t We Deserve Another Kind of Dad’s Day?

I don’t know how you celebrate Father’s Day, but some years, it seems like this holiday provokes more pain than pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always deeply touched by the cards, that fresh cup of coffee hand-delivered first-thing by my loving family, and then, of course, the well-intentioned gifts.

But I think perhaps–and maybe it’s just me–we’re kind of reaching a saturation point where the cliché stuff is getting in the way of simply enjoying time together and creating a few meaningful memories.

Yes, there are a million retail-fueled ways of saying “I Love You Dad” and “You Rock, Old Man!”, but think about it, how many ties does one need? Meme-themed t-shirts and barbeque gear? Not needed. Personalized mugs? Please, no. Golf accessories? Car accessories? I’m good, fam, I really, really am. The thoughtfulness, the care, it’s all deeply touching, but after a few years of this brand-dad-crazy, a dad starts to wonder. How is this actually fun… for any of us? Wouldn’t it be nice for once to celebrate this day in a way that allows all of us to share in a bit of spontaneous, simultaneous fun— you know like a family?

Well, maybe the universe heard me this year and sent an exhibition from the National World War II Museum to Reno’s own Nevada Museum of Art. Seriously, gentlemen, the stars have aligned. Take my advice on this one: tell the family to put the credit card away and forgo the last-minute smiling cardboard box delivery to the front door. Tell them that the one true secret to your Father’s Day happiness this year would be a short, simple family excursion to discover Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II”.

Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II at the Nevada Museum of Art

Mansplaining Man ‘O War: How I’m doing Father’s Day

So, given all the other options I know about from years of fatherhood and that holiday that rounds out the month of June, I thought I’d give you my two cents on a way of spending the day that will feel less like an annual donation to ye olde Amazon and more like a day well-spent with the family. Gentlemen, this is what I’m asking for this year: a trip to the Nevada Museum of Art.

Images of the exhibition Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of
World War II at the Nevada Museum of Art.
Images of the exhibition Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Hear me out. Ghost Army tells a unique story from the final year of World War II. It involves deception. Inflatable M4 Sherman Tanks. Sound engineers recorded multi-track “sounds of war” that played on five-hundred-pound speakers to deceive the nearby Nazi forces that something big was going on when, in reality, nothing was.

The exhibition tells soldiers’ stories—stuff they wrote in journals, recorded, or that ended up in a documentary after the Ghost Army was declassified in 1996. I could share more marketing copy from the Museum to use here (they would probably appreciate that) but the point here is that for an exhibition at an art museum, this one isn’t bad. And unlike the barbeque accessories or ties, this is something that my entire family can all enjoy, together. My kids could learn something new. My wife will get to see the artwork. And then, there’s the obvious draw: inflatable tanks.

Dummy M8 Greyhound armored Car, National Archives

For those who appreciate clear schematics over complicated semantics, what I’m asking for looks like this: Father’s Day = Family Day

And that’s something I would like to do, and I thought you might agree. To check out the details yourself, see

Phony HQ for the 119th Regiment of the 30th Division in Dulken Germany, 1945, National Archives

About the Nevada Museum of Art

The Nevada Museum of Art is the only art museum in Nevada accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). A private, nonprofit organization founded in 1931, the statewide institution is supported by its membership as well as sponsorships, gifts and grants. Through its permanent collections, original exhibitions and programming, and E.L. Cord Museum School, the Nevada Museum of Art provides meaningful opportunities for people to engage with a range of art and education experiences. The Museum’s Center for Art + Environment is an internationally-recognized research center dedicated to supporting the practice, study, and awareness of creative interactions between people and their environments. The Center houses unique archive materials from more than 1,000 artists working on all seven continents, including Cape Farewell, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Lita Albuquerque, Burning Man, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Great Basin Native Artists Archive, Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, and Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector.

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