By Rich Williams
Having just experienced another graduation at Eatonville High School, I thought it was timely to share a graduation speech given by Ron Elliff in 1965.
The topics for all the speeches that year came from a book written by Gilbran called “The Profit”. Ron’s speech was taken from the chapter on children:
“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children”. And he said, “You may give your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts. Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
“This quotation is of great significance to parents. Parents have always had the responsibility of raising their children. They must provide for them but only with the idea that they will someday leave the nest and live their own lives. The important thing to remember is that parents cannot raise their children as they were raised. Times will not allow this. But rather they can offer advice and understanding, that is the best way.
“The idea that we cannot turn back is not essential. We, as seniors of 1965, have a bright future to look forward to just as our parents did several years ago. But their ambitions are now just memories or in a few cases, realities. Whatever the case, no one can turn back the clock. Your hopes, your ambitions now lie in the hands of your children. Even your wildest dreams cannot see into the future and the world will not stop spinning for you to look back. With this in mind, try to guide your children with the idea that their lives are going to be different than yours. Provide the necessary stepping stones that will best prepare them to face this change.
“So as we graduate tonight, we look upon this ceremony not as an end, but as a beginning. A beginning to a long and wonderful life. The only question we may have is, are we really prepared? True, we have gone through twelve years of schooling. But this alone is not enough. As the other speakers tonight have said, we want to find joy in our work, we want good friends, we want a goal to work toward and we expect a balance between joy and sorrow. These along with the vocational and academic skills we acquire in school should make us the kind of people our parents and teachers have always hoped we will become.”
Rich Williams, an Eatonville resident, is a member of the class of 1965.