October 9, 2019 –

In 2017, I attended high school graduation held in a small town, a population of around 7,000—there were 110 graduates. I, along with 1,500 relatives and friends, enjoyed the ceremony. It began with a presenting of the United States flag accompanied by a lone trumpeter playing the Star-Spangled Banner. Then with a hand over heart, we spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s when I became emotional. 

Fifty-eight years ago, I attended high school graduation, mine. The ceremony was in a small town. The event was in our school auditorium; the one tonight took place at the school football field.

Except for special church services on Veterans Day and Memorial Day and attending Boy Scout Eagle Ceremonies, there aren’t many occasions where I stood with a group of people, hand over our hearts recited the Pledge, and listened to the playing of our national anthem. I attend very few sports events, so I am not in the stadium or the arena when this moving experience happens.

I’m offended and upset when people don’t stand during the playing or singing of our National Anthem, and when they don’t place their hand over their hearts. On Memorial Day, I am blessed to be emotionally confident and express my patriotic feelings. I remember the many servicemen and women who gave their lives so we might be emotional and crying babies become adults in the greatest country in the world. 

The graduates will learn that their education isn’t complete; it has only begun. As one young speaker said recently, “Expect obstacles. It’s not the ‘setbacks’ that count but the ‘comebacks’ that decide our success.