I am always interested in what speakers have to say to high school and college graduating seniors. Numerous times, I have had the privilege of addressing graduates.
I can still recall the first such address I ever heard and the thematic approach and main point. I was being graduated from Leewood Junior High, from the ninth grade in May 1945, 15 years old and class president.
On that occasion, up Cabin Creek in West Virginia, Mr. H. C. Kennedy, a well-known educator was our principal. The speaker was the pastor of a large Lutheran church in Charleston. At the time, World War II was winding down. The times were tough, food and gasoline were rationed. There had been a lot of heartache during those terrible war years.
Drawing his illustrations from the times, this pastor used the word “must” and like a good jeweler, he held this diamond of truth before us and turned it ever so slightly so we could see every facet sparkle with another part of the meaning of the word “must.” He pointed out there were some things in life that we must do and some things which we must not do. That pastor’s address has been a guiding star in my life for the past 65 years.
If I were giving a graduation address this year, I would lift up several words and ask the audience to turn these diamonds of thought and truth until they burned into their hearts and minds in an unforgettable manner. People in many countries will read the words you are reading now. Think about them as you read carefully and thoughtfully and then pass them on to your friends, children and grandchildren.
I choose patience, guidance, understanding, love and support that appeared on a 55th wedding anniversary card Kitty and I celebrated on June 4. Our son, Mark, added, “Congratulations. Happy Anniversary. I love you very much.”
As I read those words I easily thought of politicians, radio and television personalities, sports figures, religious leaders and millions of others who seem to be complete strangers to those words and others such as dependability, responsibility, ethics, loyalty, concern, truth, fidelity, trust, integrity and dozens more.
Our daughter, Elizabeth, sent her “Happy 55th Anniversary” card, with the love of all of her family. It carried these words, “May your anniversary be as bright as the memories you’ve collected, as warm as the love you’ve found together, and as special as the wishes that are being wished for you today.”
How could people who had been married to each other 30, 40 or 50 years still be in love and enjoying it? Those married 60 and 70 years must be daydreaming, I thought. I’m beginning to think they knew something I did not know.
It thrills me that I am as excited about Kitty as I was the first week I met her and in the two years of courtship prior to our marriage in 1955. I love her more each day. What a talented, intelligent and beautiful lady! I used to wonder how it would be at our age, but I never imagined it could be so wonderful.
One bad decision has a way of leading to many others. A good decision can lead to a well-ordered and successful life. A wise saying of Solomon, speaking of all men states: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). An earlier proverb says, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility” (15:33).
The wise learn. They pay solemn attention to the key issues of life. They learn early about a disciplined and successful life. Wise decisions lead to the blessings of life.
Assist News ServiceBill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.
For information on becoming a subscriber to the Ellis Column for your newspaper or magazine, you may contact him at: BILL ELLIS, P.O.Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560 or by calling: 304-757-6089.