I just experienced the most amazing moment of my life. My son had the honor of giving the Valedictorian address today at his high school graduation. You may think that seeing him stand at the podium and addressing his classmates as the number one ranked student in a class of 480 students would be the proudest moment of my life, but it wasn’t. No the proudest moment of my life occurred after the ceremony.
As we were muddling through the crowd of graduates and proud parents we were approached by a young lady who asked if we were the parents of the boy who made the speech. Proudly I replied that yes I was. She continued to ask me if I would happen to have a copy of the speech that she may have. I looked at her with a puzzled look but confirmed that yes I did have a copy. The young lady teared up and introduced herself as the sister of the young man who my son mentioned in his speech. The following is taken from his speech:
“In a graduation meeting when one of our classmates announced that he will be off to training to enlist in the marines the day after graduation, very few of us knew or saw who it was, in fact I still don’t know. Our class of 2012 took that moment not think about whether or not you were someone in our class, on a sports team, or one of our friends, we took that moment to acknowledge what an honorable choice you were making and proudly gave you a round of applause.”
The young lady continued to explain that her mother was brought to tears and the family was truly touched by the recognition my son had given to their son and brother. They had only a few hours left with him this evening to have dinner before putting him on a bus to leave for his training in the marines, after training he would be immediately deployed as an active marine. Both my son and I were overwhelmed by the emotions of this young lady and assured her that our prayers where with her family and her brother.
Again we went back to mingling amongst the crowd and posed for several pictures and received the usual congratulations. Again the young girl approached us. This time she was accompanied by a fellow graduate. She introduced her brother, the brave marine to my son. The young man reached his hand out to my son and shook his hand as he thanked him for what he said in his speech. His eyes were glistening with tears as he told my son how much it meant to him that he was acknowledged in the valedictorian address.
I was overwhelmed with emotion as these two young men shook hands and my son assured him that he was doing a much more honorable thing than he had ever done. The young marine told my son that his excellent grades and success in school where just as honorable. These two young men had never met each other in the four years of high school. They were never in the same class and never ran with the same group of friends. Yet here they stood both admiring the other for their accomplishments and their future contribution to society.
This is the proudest moment in my life. A young marine is heading off to serve his country with the words of my son tucked away in his pocket. A family knows that their son’s sacrifice has been acknowledged and admired. This was not a day about popularity or who had the highest GPA. This was a day that proved that each and every young person who walked across that stage today to pick up their diploma has the potential to make a positive contribution to the world.