This past weekend as I sat listening to yet another commencement speaker, I realized that I don’t remember anything those speakers said at my graduation ceremonies.
Well, that’s not completely true.
I remember John C. Stevens reminding us to “be all things to all people” when I finished my bachelor’s degree.
And I don’t even know if we had a speaker at my high school graduation.
But I remember the people who came just to watch me walk across the stage.
My parents came every time. My mom in panty hose and heels. My dad in a suit and tie.
Always when it was hot outside.
When I graduated from high school, my grandmother came and sat through all six hundred and something of us walking across the stage. She sat through our orchestra playing “Pomp and Circumstance” and the choir singing “When You Walk Through A Storm.”
When I graduated from college, my aunt drove all the way from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, by herself, leaving her family of boys to fend for themselves for the weekend.
Just so she could watch my dad ‘hood’ me.
When I received a master’s degree, my uncle surprised me by driving all the way from Houston.
When I finished law school, even more people came, partly because Kenneth Starr was the commencement speaker, but I still like to believe they came because of me.
I don’t remember anything Kenneth Starr said either.
As boring as graduation ceremonies are, they’re important to attend. To acknowledge a rite of passage – the completion of a task. Of following through to the end.
Only to realize it’s just the beginning.
The ‘commencement’ of real learning.
You need all the ‘pomp and circumstance’ to celebrate that milestone.
And you need those faces in the crowd to cheer you on.