Seventy years ago this month, I walked down the aisle of my high school auditorium and crossed the stage to get my diploma from our stately principal, Mr. Davis.
The school was called Lowville Free Academy and I was 14 years old at the time.
It was just a fluke that I graduated so young. Right after my fourth birthday, I began first grade. And after seventh grade, I took the New York State regents and passed, as did my friends, which made us eligible for high school.
That wasn’t my last graduation, but it may have been the most important one. All that pomp and ceremony was very impressive!
Soon after that, I went off to college. Living far away, I was never able to attend a reunion. So when my 50th rolled around, I decided to go. And what a pleasure it was!
Many members of the class were smart and stayed in scenic Lewis County, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.
A local committee was formed and did a great job of planning. Long before the reunion, every class member was contacted and asked to send a brief bio. And the committee assembled a wonderful 50th yearbook, with a whole page devoted to each member of the class!
Sadly, 30 of our class of 110 had died. Some soon after graduation in World War II. But with spouses, our picnic and banquet were well-attended and we had a great time.
I was especially pleased to be asked to say the invocation at the banquet. It made me think about our lives together and apart.
Today, at this time of graduations and reunions, I share a quote from that invocation:
“Our Father, we ask that you bless us, the class of 1942, as once again we go out into the world. For half-a-century we have been apart, and now for two days together. . . .
“In 1942, we went forth to the bright lights of the big cities, only to see those cities decay into pockets of poverty and holocausts of violence.
“We went forth loving the beautiful hills and plains of this great country, only to see the planet begin to lose its grip on survival.
“We went forth in 1942 to fight a war that would end all wars, only to learn that war breeds more war.
“We went forth young and vigorous, and watched the emergence of a society that fears aging and rejects its own elderly.
“In this 50 years, we have learned much. And now once again, we go forth, with new skills and new understandings.
“Poised as we are at the last third of our lives, we pledge to make a difference.
“We commit ourselves to find ways to deal with poverty and reduce violence across our nation. We commit ourselves to make peace instead of war.
“We promise to take the massive action needed to save our planet for future generations.
“And above all, we pledge ourselves to reject society’s negative ideas about aging. We will stay young and vigorous, contributing to the world’s solutions, giving back to you and society what we have received.
“From this safe haven of rediscovered friendship and caring, we go forth, asking that you go with us and empower us to make a difference.
Write Marie Snider at firstname.lastname@example.org
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