Comparing two very important events

By Stephan Drew

Over the past week, we have seen many wonderful celebrations across our country. Memorial Day and graduation festivities have occupied our time, with good reason.
People all over the nation honored those who died protecting our rights and freedoms and ensuring our safety. At the same time, commencement ceremonies honored the achievements of high school graduates across the land.
At first glance, these two different types of commemorations may seem to have nothing in common. But I believe they share one important aspect – the celebration of truly great life achievements.
Neither of these accomplishments were achieved without a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. The years of intense training our military personnel went through helped them to perform their immense duties but they had to have more than just preparation. They required a deep sense of humanity and a true, compassionate love and respect for their comrades in arms.
And our graduates arrived at this point, not just because they had modern buildings, the latest schoolbooks and great teachers. All those things are necessary but our graduates have something else – a deep desire to succeed and achieve their deepest goals, no matter what the obstacles are.
In that sense, they are a little like the military personnel who struggled, overcame extreme hardship, and gave the ultimate sacrifice (their lives) to make this a safer and better country with opportunities for all.
We honor our deceased military troops and we thank them for everything they did for this country that we all love. We owe them, and their families, a debt we can only repay through a lifetime of exhaustive service to protect the values, freedoms and rights they kept safe for the rest of us.
They gave to us the sacred gift of a safe and free country. They gave their lives to grant us this hallowed legacy. But they are gone now. They have passed the torch to all of us in hopes that we will guard it and carry it as well as they did.
That is where the graduates come in. You, the Class of 2022, have achieved so much in your years of preparation for the future. You ARE the future of this country but that future is just beginning.
You haven’t come to the end of your struggles. Your testing time is not over, you’ve only passed the first part of a larger and much broader adventure than you can even imagine.
Just like when building a house, your basic foundation is now complete. But a house requires floors, walls, windows, a roof, paint, pictures, appliances and furniture. You can’t live a thorough and fulfilling life in just a foundation. So, now, the real work begins.
You must take what you’ve learned and expand on it. You will struggle and, at times, you will fail. But, your hard work, perseverance and deep sense of love, honor and dignity will get you through even the greatest of hardships.
You will expand on the basic tenets you’ve been taught in school and your lives, our nation, and the world, will be better for it. Just like a pilot who has now completed flying school, we are all anxious to see you take off and soar through the air, alone for the first time.
We are fully behind you and we are ready to do all we can to help you succeed. But this is YOUR journey. We cannot take it for you. We can advise you and help you solve your problems but we cannot fix them for you.
This is your adventure. We have had ours, full of successes and failures, and we have come out of it stronger and better people. It was never easy for us and it won’t be for you, either.
You deserve the full and complete experience that life can give you. All of its ups and downs. The heartbreak and sadness, the joy and happiness. You shouldn’t cheat yourself of any of these feelings. The bitter stings of failure will make the taste of success that much sweeter for you.
Welcome to the world outside of high school. Chapter One of your real-life adult adventure is beginning. Keep all that you’ve learned very close to you and be prepared to learn even more as you travel down this road.
However it comes out in the end, it will be because of what YOU make of it. We have no doubt that you, like all those brave men and women who came before you, will do your best and will succeed in making this country and the world a much better place.
Remember and respect those who made the ultimate sacrifice to give you the world you now enjoy. Honor them by keeping the torch lit and continuing to preserve the safety, freedom and opportunity that they passed on to you. Hold it sacred in your hearts so that, when the time comes, you may pass it on to the next generation unblemished. Congratulations to you all! Now, go out there and do it well!

Author: Stephan Drew

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