Saturday, March 7, 2009

Valedictory Address

The following valedictory address was given by my mother on May 28, 1948, at 8:00 PM, Elgin High School, Elgin, Texas:

We, the graduating class of 1948, of Elgin High School, have been looking forward to this time with pleasurable anticipation. Graduation has been a goal for which we have striven with at least some measure of zeal. Day by day and year after year we have struggled on with our minds directed toward a definite objective. Now that graduating time has come we rejoice, yet there is a feeling of sadness when we realize that we are leaving for all time these familiar halls, these teachers whom we have learned to admire, and our own classmates with whom we will never again be associated in just the same way. We experience a pang that is almost like regret when we remember that this chapter of our life is ended, that we are writing at the close of it--"The End"--and turning toward new scenes and new associations.

Knowing that these things are true, and regretting the breaking away from old associates, nevertheless, we rejoice that our way may now spread out into the broader avenues of the life ahead.

The world is waiting for us with many needs to be met today. In all fields of endeavor, men and women are asking questions and trying to find the answers. Social, economic, and political struggles mark the course of mankind in the present age. Life for the world today is not easy, nor has it been easy for some decades.

As we say farewell here, we are going out into a world where hope and despair are mingled, where laughter and tears flow together. We may well pause to consider the seriousness of the step which we are about to take.

It is a time when we might take to heart words spoken by Christ in His famous Sermon on the Mount, words with real meaning and which are filled with practical wisdom that may be daily applied to all tasks. As individual graduates we do look to the future with expectations of accomplishing much that is worthwhile. We anticipate making our lives valuable to others as well as ourselves, otherwise we shall fail in our mission which Christ made clear when He said, "Ye are the salt of the earth".

It may be for us to heal and purify the streams of life. It may be our lot to fight for the preservation of the ideals of the human race. Our way may lead to the heights of prominence, or the world may be little conscious of our presence. Still our influence may be felt, our lives help make the earth a little better than it would be had we not passed this way. It is not essential that we gain fame or fortune, but it is important that we willingly assume the responsibility of using our time and talent in lifting humanity to a higher level. Sometimes it may be for us to take our places in the world in such a modest and unassuming manner that what we do is lost in the intermingling with others. If such be our lot, let us still recognize that we can be seasoning for the dish, or in other words "salt of the earth", even though we cannot be the garnishing.

In bidding each other farewell, may we resolve that we shall do our part to help solve the problems with which the world is confronted.

We hope that we shall go forth and in the years to come do honor to you, our friends and instructors. We hope that you will never have reason to be disappointed in the course we follow nor the results we gain. We earnestly desire to make use of what you have done for us as a foundation for the building of lives and services of which you will be proud.

We thank you for all you have done for us. We thank you for all you have tried to do, and as we move up and the next class in line takes our places, we would bespeak for them cordial and continued cooperation on their part, for we know from experience that the people of Elgin will help in every way they can.

The very fact that we are going on speaks eloquently of how well you, our leaders, have done your work and how fine and cooperative has been the spirit of Elgin.

It gives us joy that we have succeeded in completing the course of study prescribed for us here, and that we are now ready for the next step of our journey up the heights of knowledge. We shall be students as long as we live, and in the years to come we shall look back with great appreciation of what you have made possible for us through your zeal and leadership, for to educate is to lead out--to guide from the known forward into the greater unknown.

We are glad that we are going on. We are glad that further privileges await us. We are glad that we have measured up in some degree at least, to the expectation and hope of our parents who have striven for the best for us and have always been willing to sacrifice for our sake.

We thank you for the visions you have give us of what life may be made to mean. You may think that we, in our youth, have taken such as our due and taken it thoughtlessly all too often, but in this hour we would assure you that "the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts," and that all too frequently what is in our hearts does not come to our lips to find expression in words, because of our inability to be articulate.

We shall always hold in mind tenderly and gratefully all that these years have meant to us, all they have taught us, for we are inevitably "a part of all we have met". Never can we get away from the influence, the example, the interest and the guidance of these years, and to you, our instructors and leaders, it is with deep gratitude and stirring emotion that we say, "Farewell".

Mother was two years younger than most of her class, having skipped two grades along the way. She graduated at the age of 16 and went on to attend Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton, Texas. She taught elementary school children for almost thirty years before retiring.

The class of 1948 had the memory of World War II fresh in their minds. Many of their older brothers and relatives had seen undescribable horror and some had not returned. They were born during the Great Depression and witnessed first hand the hardships of that era. They came of age in a rapidly changing world and that night must have been a time of mixed anticipation and trepidation.

Included in the little booklet that contains the transcript of the valedictory address is a listing of the member of the Elgin High Senior Class of 1948:

Bobby Barton
James Behrend
Clarence Blomberg
Nancy Burke
Rose Marie Carlson
Carlie Jean Clopton

Pat Conway
Peggy Creel
Fred Creppon
Patricia Dannelley
Bill Davis
William Dyer
Irene Eklund
Lillian Goetz
Billie Jean Greenhaw
Christine Gunn
P. A. Helms
James Hicks
Nettie Frances Hodge
Marcy Kemp
Jerry King
Rita King
Laverne Kreidel
Lois Larson
Wanda Lewis
Mary Anne Lundell
Ralph Lundgren
L. D. McKenzie
Bill Morrison
Donald Nance
Faye Owens
Reg Owens
Eddy Pate
Leonard Prinz
Rhoda Ryden
Betty Samuelson (the salutatorian)
Uvaldo Santos
Jessie Lee Scott
Sammie Smith
Mary Jo Snowden
Dora Mae Sowell
James Stacks
Charles Stenholm
Dora Thiele
Howard Truitt
George Vrazel
Jane Whitehead
Eva Grace Wilson
Elsie Wolf


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