Saturday, June 2, 2012
There are a lot of graduating classes celebrating exodus from high school this month. My graduation was sixty-seven years ago. The smiling faces of my class are shown above.
Sixty-seven years is a long time. I remember that we all had high hopes for the future. It had been a challenging four years. Three months into our Freshman year Pearl Harbor was bombed and our country became enveloped in World War Two. When we graduated it was a couple of months before the war ended. Several of my classmates were called to service in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, or what was then called, the "Air Corps". Most came home - a few did not survive
In 1980 the class had a reunion. Most of the class was able to attend. I was the one who came the furthest. A few had passed away. a few were 'lost' - no one seemed to be able to track them down.
But I was able to recognize most of those who were there - a little older and perhaps a little chubbier. The cheerleaders were, for the most part, able to lead the school cheers albeit with a few protesting muscles and joints. My senior class English teacher, who later became principal of the high school, remarked to my wife that "Bruce is the last person I would have visualized becoming a minister".
One of my classmates, married to the son of the local Lutheran pastor, remarked that I should not bask in an ego trip in the ministry because she "knew what I was like when we were growing up together". I have no memories of knowing much about her in school. Maybe she was talking about mischief that some of us would get into and I confess that I did get into some mischief. I do recall that when I went to the reunion a few of my classmates were at the bar on the way back to the reunion room and one of them mistook me for a photographer from the paper - not a classmate. But if you go back to the yearbook, I was credited with being in charge of photography for the yearbook.
As I looked through the yearbook (a half-size volume intended to conserve paper for the war effort) I saw all of the projections and individual intentions of people. Moving around as much as I have over the sixty-seven years since graduation, I've lost touch with almost everyone. I've wondered how many classmates achieved the goals they set back in 1945. I know a lot of them had done well by the time of the reunion. One or two are on my internet list but I wonder what many of them have done in the meantime. I wonder, in fact, how many of us (now in our middle eighties) are still alive and I wonder, as well where they are and what they have done, or are doing with their lives.
There are those who say I dwell on the past. That those days are passed so why even think about them? I don't dwell on the past - but I treasure good memories. My high school class was in school during a terrible time in history and we made the best of it. I am proud to have been a part of my high school class. I look at the picture and realize that it was a class filled with hope for the future. And it was a class filled with wonderful classmates. I am thankful to have known them, and treasure my memories of fifty-some young people who dreamed dreams and optimism for the days ahead. It's great to have memories celebrating positives - the world today is filled with too many negatives.