Last evening I hope you joined millions of people present at a virtual graduation celebration for young people all over the United States. It aired at 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. and was an eye-opening and gratitude-producing event for me. I hope you were there, not because there were two past presidents giving valedictory addresses (although both Pres. Clinton and Pres.Obama spoke eloquently) or because of all the glitz and the other famous participants who spoke, but because of the young people themselves and the messages of encouragement given to them by so many adults.
I was a high school teacher for thirteen years in my much younger life and was always a supporter of activities of all kinds but the world was changing and other paths called to me – sometimes directly engaged with youth and sometimes as a spectator in their lives.
Last evening I was called back to my admiration for so many young people and stories that are still quite vivid in my memory as clips of dozens – maybe hundreds – of today’s seniors graced the virtual stages around the country. There were testimonials from adults as well – family members and famous people – but the most moving were the moments of the young people themselves, whether tossing their caps into the air or singing the national anthem. That one made me weep as I thought about what these young people have lived through in their young lives. They were mostly born (or gestating) in 2001, the beginning of the most frightening and dangerous era in our recent history – bookended by this present moment of pandemic, the consequences of which we still do not understand.
Today I find myself in a more hopeful state for our country and the world as I think of the tumult that these graduates have faced and how grateful I am for the knowledge of all the gifts they have shown and will continue to shine into this complicated and creative life that we share. I add my congratulations and offer my prayer as they travel forward into what I hope will be amazing possibilities in adulthood.