‘Tis the season of graduations, college and high school alike.
In the spirit of the season and commencement speakers, I’m turning over this post to a guest blogger: my mom, and her high school commencement speech, given as valedictorian of the graduating class of Lake View High School in San Angelo, Texas, 1944.
As she notes in framing her brief comments, she and her classmates graduated during World War II, at a time when the outcome remained uncertain, just weeks before the D-Day invasion.
It’s impossible for me to fathom how it must have felt to attend high school in such a time of uncertainty.
Friends, parents, and faculty members —
Since we, the graduating class of Lake View, have completed our high school work during war time, we feel that our lives might be compared to the Allies’ march against the enemy. We have now reached Cassini, the Alps, which represent the institutions of learning lie ahead, and beyond the Alps — Berlin.
We’ll say that this city is our goal in life. Some of us may never reach the Alps. A few may pass the Alps but fall before we reach Berlin. Others may reach Berlin even though their journey does not take them by the way of the Alps. Nevertheless some of us will reach Berlin.
Without the home front, the defense plants, and the ground crews, our fighting forces would be helpless. So it is with our lives. You parents, friends, and teachers are our home front. You are the ones who have kept us going. Parents, you’ve meant so much to us. You’ve loved us even as you were correcting our wrong doings. Therefore you shall always come first with us.
Friends, you’ve been an inspiration. You were always faithful and ready to defend us. Faculty, we shall always think of you as a group who was ready and wiling to cooperate with us — ready to give us comfort, hope, and cheer.
We wish to thank everyone of you for your part in making this, our graduation day — despite a tinge of sorrow one always feels at parting — the happiest we have yet experienced. We shall remember you as we march down the streets of Berlin on that golden day of victory.
Somehow, it feels appropriate to share this commencement speech on this Memorial Day weekend, 72 years after a young girl, filled with hope and promise for the future, spoke these words of thanks and aspiration for her fellow students.
Nora Dell Massey–1944 Lake View High School Commencement (PDF)