To the Editor:
One of my favorite events of the year is graduation. Whether it's high school or college, it's a celebration of achievement and success. This year, I missed the Fairmont High School graduation because I was attending five graduations of family outside of Fairmont. I also celebrated my 90th birthday, and I thank the many people who had me in their thoughts and prayers.
The themes of the graduation speeches I attended this past May focused on the important traits of hard work, inspiration and enthusiasm, and camaraderie. Graduation marks that stage in life where the student has made a decision that hard work becomes a part of life and a necessity to go forward. There is a story about Arnold Palmer who, at a crucial moment in a golf tournament, made a difficult hole-in-one. An observer commented, "Man you sure are lucky." "Yes," said Palmer, heading down the fairway, "it's a funny thing, the more I practice, the luckier I get."
Hard work is not something to avoid or graduate from, but is part of everything we do. The harder we work, and the more we love that work, the better we do. Hard work is a blessing, as it channels our energies and God-given talents. And it yields benefits far beyond those we intended. Something good we had not expected, something unlooked for comes into our lives as a gift. This was what Thomas Edison found, when through all his hard work in discovering electricity, he accidentally discovered many other unexpected inventions.
Graduation speeches are always a story of inspiration - about factors and forces that motivate us and shape our lives. The message is about goals that will serve to organize and measure our energies, skills and enthusiasm. But inspiration is more than that. It is both the result and cause of hard work, and it provides the roadmap for what we wish to do with our lives and how we will be happy. And because we will face challenges that we must accept and cannot postpone, only our inspiration can see us through such moments.
People are inspired by moments, by stories, by uplifting talk and unforgettable examples of inspiration that pushes us to move forward - to dream. And with the inspiration comes the enthusiasm to move forward. In their work, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Kennedy provided great inspiration themes that were daring in scope and calling for us all to dream and take the next step.
We may know about the inspirational moments experienced by or caused by famous leaders, but our lives are enriched by the everyday moments of inspiration that transform and directly affect our lives in extraordinary ways. Such stories exist in every town and very much so right here in Martin County.
Along with hard work and inspiration, graduation is about the importance of camaraderie and the lifelong friends that have been made over the years of schooling. On such a celebratory event as graduation - with classmates bidding farewell to each other, remembering their exciting times over the past 13 years of schooling, and promising to keep in touch - it seems appropriate, even her in Martin County in 2014, to cite Dostoyevsky's famous novel, The Brothers Karamazov:?"Let us agree that we shall never forget one another and whatever happens, remember how good it felt when we were all together united by a good and decent feeling which made us better people probably than we would otherwise have been."
In other words, our friends help us in shaping our lives and achieving what we may not otherwise have been able to do on our own.
Wherever life's journey may lead the 2014 graduates, I hope you will carry the best of our values and traditions, and I'm confident you will be a part of a rich heritage of community, character, commitment and compassion.
Michael G. Garry