Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in My Blog | 0 comments

When Pride Is A Good Thing

My Statesville  High School graduating class of 1963 recently held its 50th Reunion celebration in my hometown, Statesville, NC.  What a celebration it was.  We had somewhere around 160 people in attendance from far & wide along with those now living there.  We had a great, hard-working committee that worked over a period of three years to make it the absolute best it could be.  Wow, did they ever succeed!!  Thanks, dear classmates!!

As I flew back to my new home in Florida, I reflected on the five days I spent in that wonderful community that will always be called “home.”    With every hug of a classmate, some I hadn’t even seen in 50 years, there was that immediate connection renewed and instant exchange of personal updates.  As we enjoyed catching up with one another, there was also the acknowledgement of our “silent classmates” who have passed away within the span of 50 years in the Vietnam War, following serious illness and some just very recently.   There was so much reinforcement of how good we were as a class…and that that goodness lives on today.

Having lived there 68 years, teaching high school Spanish, I had the greatest honor and privilege to invest myself in helping to mold young people into well-rounded and productive citizens…helping to shape their futures. At the reunion, we were blessed to have a number of our teachers and principal join us for our 50th Reunion Dinner on that Saturday night.  NONE of us look the same, but looking across into the eyes of one another, our teachers and even our principal, those EYES looked the same!  What  joy it was to hear our principal Dent Miller speak to us again as a class…with that same BOOMING voice…the voice that scared many of us back in the day and today it was so COMFORTING.  Mr. Miller called a few of us out and hearing that voice call out “RAT” Neely somehow today was comical rather than thrusting me into a state of grave concern as it did in high school.  Something so telling that happened as he spoke was this:  Mr. Miller said “I loved you all and I really tried hard to not have favorites…but sometimes I just couldn’t help it.  I DID have a favorite in your class.  I’m not going to say WHO it was, you KNOW who you are.  So, I will reveal my favorite in the graduating class of 1963 now this way.  I’m going to ask my favorite to please stand?

Immediately, we ALL stood up and everyone, especially, Mr. Miller felt very special.  Such applause & cheering.  We knew he loved us.  And not forgetting that was OUR gift to him.

We were your normal teenagers, we had a great time, we partied, did some things one would get arrested for today, but with no malicious intent…but we were good kids.  We. Were. Good kids.

So, back to flying home from the reunion.  I felt:

  • happy to have seen so many of my classmates and hearing about how their lives have progressed;
  • excited to have seen classmates GENUINELY listening to others and enjoying their company; no evidence of competitive nature or one-upmanship;
  • loved still today by classmates I was close to yet we had drifted apart over the 50 years by geography;
  • fortunate to have been raised in such a caring & wholesome  community;
  • appreciative of the many folks who worked long & hard to make our 50th Reunion a success; and
  • thankful for the blessings of the Lord and today’s medical advances giving my 14 more years of life enabling me to attend this very special time.

But most of all, I feel a great sense of PRIDE in the individuals in our Class of  ’63 and our class as a whole…I saw people genuinely enjoying one another, with mutual respect & concern and I am so very proud of the way we honor, remember and still today cherish our friends no longer with us.

Pride… not inordinate self-esteem, but the feeling of pleasure to see something very special in others.

Yes, I am very proud of who we were back in the early sixties and still are…even more so today. 

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