Graduation and Memorial Day weekend

What a different graduation it will be this year. Certainly will be one they will never forget and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good lesson in adapt and carry forward.

We are proud to publish our graduation edition this week. With the schools closed there were some things we couldn’t get but are just glad to feature the graduates.

My own graduation was not the norm either. Because I graduated early so I could head to local community college and then head to UGA. I was in summer school taking last subject needed. Therefore, there were 20 of us that walked the football field for graduation. The year I would have graduated was the largest graduating class in the history of the school. I was kind of glad I did graduate early as it would have taken forever. 

On the football field, there wasn’t as much pomp and circumstance but it served the purpose and I graduated. We did walk across a makeshift stage and our names were called and we shook hands with the principal. We did have caps and gowns as well and I gave a short speech to those assembled. It was only about three minutes and was mainly that we made it and now could seize the day as we were in charge of our how far we went from there. 

We moved our tassel over and threw our hats into the air and the next day, I was packing and excited for the future ahead in journalism. Little did I know or realize the twists and turns that life would bring all along the way.

To get my college degree, I worked three jobs to put myself through. I’m sure my Dad would have helped if I asked but I wanted to do it on my own. There were many days of little or no sleep and going from class to work to class and back to work. But, if I had to do it all over again, I’d still do most things the same. I learned a lot and pushed myself to many limits. It helped me grow in ways I might have otherwise such as having a driving work ethic. 

I also finished my BS degree without one bit of debt.  It was not easy and there were days I cried and days I wanted to scream. But I made it.  So will today’s graduates if they never give up. 

I’ve thought about going back to take some Constitutional law classes because we need people to stand on the Constitution, especially these days. But then, I’d also like to take classes in herbal medicine and holistic medicine. Was taking some herbal classes and  trying to finish several books, but just can’t seem to find time to do everything I want to do along with work and have a home life, so have had to prioritize. One day when I retire perhaps will go back to school. You are never too old to learn and as long as you are still learning, you are still progressing. Learning, I think, helps keep your brain young. 

Today’s graduates have a bright future in a very different world. There are still goals to set and achieve, no matter where the next phase of life takes them. Through the years, I’ve learned life is actually what you make it and your mindset about it. The wrong mindset can defeat the best of plans.  Those plans which you let God direct are more likely to flourish and succeed.

One thing I wish I had done more of in my younger days was travel more and worked harder on my relationship with God. I do know without a doubt, it was God that got me through all those years because I would not have made it on my own. These days too many people want to deny the very existence of God or are too involved in the world to realize we are nothing without Him. It’s my prayer that if they don’t know Him already, today’s graduates will come to know the one true God of creation.

Along with graduation, this weekend is also Memorial Day weekend. It was previously called Decoration Day and is a federal holiday. Many people get it confused with other days.

It wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1971 but was first widely observed in May 1868. The celebration commemorated the sacrifices of the Civil War and the proclamation was made by General John A Logan. Following the proclamation, participants decorated graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

In years since World War 1, the day has become a celebration of honor for those who died in all America’s wars.

President Ronald Reagan is given credit for reviving the practice of honoring Memorial Day. One of his famous speeches was given at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986:

“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

“I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember…”

He listed many of the men buried in the cemetery citing their various achievements. “All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen—the three fighting boys of Vietnam. It, too, has majesty and more. Perhaps you’ve seen it—three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. There’s something wounded about them, a kind of resigned toughness. But there’s an unexpected tenderness, too. At first you don’t really notice, but then you see it. The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on… And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong…”

There is a National Moment of Remembrance each year at 3 p.m. It’s a good time to pause and reflect what Memorial Day means to each of us and the sacrifices that were made for us. With all that’s going on in today’s world, we need a reminder of what freedom and keeping it, is all about. Blessings to each of you.

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

About vsimmons54

Veteran journalist of 40 years. Editor, Motivational Speaker, Ordained Minister, CEO of A Light in the Darkness Ministries, Copy Editor, Copywriting, Event Planner, Lensclusive Photography, Babbling Brook Consulting and Design, event planner and author. I love to write and speak and I love Jesus. I also do copy writing and editing. Recently co-authored Vanished Towns Revisited.
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