I was attending the Hartford Union High School Showcase event the other night when I got a call from an old friend. He had just been driving down the street in our hometown, where he still lives, and had seen a student with in a letter jacket with ‘20 on the sleeve. He realized that since we had graduated from high school in 1980, we were to that student what someone who graduated in 1940 was to us. So he called me to let me know, as only a lifelong friend can, that we aren’t that young anymore..
Perhaps it was fitting that he called me while I was at an event welcoming incoming freshman who will make up the graduating class of 2021.
It’s not like I didn’t know this on some level. Even so, framing it in this way did drive the point home quite forcefully.
As it sunk in over the course of a few days, I got to thinking about the world that awaited a 1940 graduate. Their formative years were impacted by the effects of the Great Depression, and their early adulthood was impacted by, or prematurely ended in, WWII.
The US economy wasn't great in 1980, but my classmates and I entered a world with many more opportunities, and much greater stability, than those who graduated in 1940. In short, we were fortunate.
Then I got to thinking about the world that will await those 2020 graduates, the sacrifices that had been made by those 1940 graduates to make my life better- and then, inevitably to asking myself what have I done, or not done; and what I am prepared to do, or not do, to make it better for the young people of this generation. Sobering questions.
Two of the many lessons that the “Great Generation” gave us, should we choose to listen, is that we are not the center of the universe, and we are called to serve in ways that go beyond our own needs, wants, and desires.