Andy’s Letter: Graduates

This time of year you hear a lot about Grads & Dads. They show up in a lot of commercials and ads for almost every consumer product imaginable. This year I am a Dad with a Grad. That has to be something special, doesn’t it?

Graduates at all levels deserve to be proud of their accomplishments. Whether from Kindergarten to Elementary School or Middle School to High School or High School to a career/college or college to the life beyond, the efforts and achievements should be celebrated.

I am particularly thankful that my daughter made it as a Graduate of Distinction with Honors with a degree in Art History from Miami University. It is a subject she is passionate about and I am thrilled she achieved the scholastic goals she set for herself. Congratulations Alex!

It is often said that young people are our future. People say it so much because it is true. And all these graduates give me hope that our future will be okay. There are plenty of naysayers, but I cannot believe they are seeing the potential in all these kids with their idealistic attitudes and desire to make the world a better place. Youthful enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. If you don’t believe me, hang out with some twenty-somethings for a while, keep an open mind, and listen to them.

For every graduation there is at least one address. Sometimes given by famous people or former graduates that made good in the world of business or politics, the graduation address has become an integral part of the tradition and ceremony. This year at the University of New Hampshire the address was given by Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts.

Sgt.Pitts joined the U.S Army directly out of high school and was twice deployed to war. In July of 2008 he was the last man alive in an observation post named Topside in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. After being wounded in the forehead, one arm, and both legs he thought he was out of the fight. Then he realized his fellow soldiers were still fighting with everything they had. They were not letting him down and he would not let them down. Unable to stand, he dragged himself to a position from where he could shoot and lob grenades at the advancing enemy. He continued to hold off the opposing fighters even after he was the last living man in the post. Sometimes the enemy drew within 10-yards of his position, but he was able to hold them off until American gunships arrived and per his instructions laid down fire dangerously close to his own position.

He had this advice for the graduates about courage learned in battle that applies to all facets of life, including embarking on a career. “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to move forward in the face of it. There is beauty in this definition, because courage can exist in the decisions we make every day. Courage exists in the individual who accepts who they are and openly lives the life they want in the face of rejection. Courage exists in those who challenge their own perceptions in the face of accepting that they are not infallible. Be courageous and appreciate courage in others who take action in the face of fear.”

So, for month #8 I am thankful for all the courageous Graduates about to move forward in the face of fear. I am thankful especially for my daughter and her graduation and her courage to pursue her passion for her chosen field.

Two-thirds of a year of intentional thankfulness, so far. I bet we’ll be able to make it all the way. A year of thanks is all the rage! It’s trending! “How Thankful Are You?”

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