Today I am preparing to attend my reunion for the Washington High School class of 1985. Thirty years would have appeared to be an eternity in June of 1985 as we walked across the stage at Kugler Field. It is odd that as time passes we gather to celebrate something we were so anxious to pass so quickly. Sitting in those metal folding chairs that June evening were hopes, dreams and plans of more than 200 students. In the 30 years since, some of those hopes, dreams and plans were lived out while others changed over time. As most graduating seniors are, I was so consumed with my own ideas of life that I did not appreciate the value of the hopes and dreams of those sitting around me.
As these 30 years have passed, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of people’s lives have been touched and changed for the better because of those boys and girls that surrounded me in 1985. Some became teachers and have dedicated their lives to offering students the best education they could give them. Some devoted their lives to serving and protecting our country. Businesses have been started. Loving family units have been created. The world has been entertained through the performing arts. Faith has been shared. Communities have been improved. Lives have been changed.
The advent of social media has given us all an opportunity to stay a little more connected than our previous reunions allowed. That should lend itself to making the evening that much more enjoyable. Tonight we will celebrate the fact that we survived 30 years of adult life. There will be stories told. Lots of memories will be shared. Laughter will fill the room. Some may have changed little. Others will have changed a lot. We will be reminded about the brevity of life as we remember those who we have lost in the last 10 years. For me personally, I want to celebrate the fact that the world is a better place because of the people in that room.
Today brings two things to mind. The first is hope. Barbara and I have four children and three grandchildren. They too can make a difference in this world. There is no dream out of reach or goal that is too lofty. Hope that this year’s graduating class can make the world a better place as classes before them have. Hope that the world is not doomed but greatness arises from all walks of life.
The second is determination. Based on statistics, I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me. That being the case, I want there to be more life ahead of me than I have behind me. I want to finish well. I want my finishing years to make more of difference than ever. That is my wish for all of my classmates. That our next 30 years be life-giving and we make more of a difference than ever; that what has been will diminish in light of what will be.
Class of 1985, tonight I celebrate with you. Tonight I celebrate you. I am thankful that each of you had a part in my life. The world is a better place because you are in it!