A Road Taken and a Promise Kept
I am honored to have the opportunity to address you as classmates again. It does not seem like 40 years could possibly have gone by since we all sat on the lawn outside 'D'-wing on that June day in 1963 to receive our diplomas.
There were two major themes that were charged to us that year. Each stemmed from contemporary poetry. One theme was before us each time we looked at our yearbook - " ... but I have promises to keep ...". The other was given by Ms. Marianna Willard to Linda Platt, Nancy Smith, Steve Metz and me to incorporate into our remarks to the class on graduation day. Each of us talked about "The Road Not Taken".
The import of these words has come back to me many times over the ensuing years. Not so much from the eloquence of the speakers at the time (which remains in doubt), but rather from the events of the years which went on to mold our lives and influence our memories. As I prepared to return to the town and classmates whom I had not seen in 40 years, I was somewhat intimidated by a great many thoughts. I call these "What ifs".
Thinking of these harrowing thoughts caused me to reflect on what success really meant.
In terms of the world we inherited in June of 1963, it was a very scary place. The cold war was still building at a horrible pace; we were starting to learn of new lands like Viet Nam; and the inventions of the new space age (John Glenn had just orbited) were still waiting to challenge us. We had Huntley and Brinkley, Ferrante and Tiescher, and Dion and the Belmonts. Gas was $0.35 per gallon for hi-test, Dianna Ross was still part of the Supremes and Elvis was King.
We embarked upon that environment to pick a road to travel through life. We went to work, to school and to war. We married (even a few times for some of us), we raised families, we got jobs, pursued careers, paid lots of taxes, built homes and consumed products.
In doing this, our generation achieved a great deal. We mastered the transistor, and now have PCs, MP3's, cell phones, microwaves, cloth that doesn't come from plants, turbo-charged SUVs, jet skis and plasma TVs. We can move around on jet airplanes anywhere in the world or drive fuel-efficient cars that use an expansive highway system. We have conquered Polio, Measles and countless other diseases. We put people on the moon and brought them back and watched it all on CNN. We won the cold war, defeated Communism, increased the standard of living, (not only here, but also just about everywhere). Our kids are grown and doing well and our grandchildren will inherit something far better than we had. They will face challenges (green house gasses, pollution, terrorism), but we wouldn't want them to have it too easy, would we? An, in spite of it all, and with deference to my children's generation, Elvis is still King.
So by many different measures, have we been successful? The answer is YES! Each of us contributed to these tremendous accomplishments and now enjoys a life we could not have imagined. As a class we all did our part because we took that other pathway, the less-trodden road and we kept our promises.
So feel good about our achievements, have fun this weekend, and come back to the next reunion in even richer spirit.