Monday, September 24, 2007

We Are The Class of ‘54

We are the class of ’54 looking back to the days of our youth, the days of our morning sun. To the days that followed the “Great Depression,” to the days when this nation’s “Greatest Generation” was rejoicing with the coming home of our troops from WWII; in those days our parents struggled to recover from the pain of the economic depression and the heartbreak of war. We are the children that were born in the mid-thirties reflecting of the days when the front door was always open, back before locked cabinets or childproof lids were on the medicine bottles, the days when Castor Oil was a cure all---to the days when chicken was caught off the yard and cooked and served as a delicacy on Sunday---but only when the preacher or other company came. In those days the little boys played cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers using their fingers as simulated guns and the little girls played with imaginary dolls; in those days the Sears and Roebuck catalogue was truly a “wish” book. In those days we who lived in rural areas studied by lamp light while awaiting the arrival of electricity---TV was yet future as we set around the battery radio to listen to the “Grand Ole Opry” on Saturday night.

In those days most all of us were poor, but never hungry, challenged but never deprived and the skill of innovation was learned out of necessity. We were blessed with parents and teachers who were experienced in the struggle against the pain of heartbreak and the misery of hardship; and it was they who taught us hard work, loyalty to good causes and dedication to our commitments, along with honesty in all our dealings. These were complimented with teachings of integrity, courage, toughness and tenacity that prepared us to reach to the next rung of the latter; giving up was not an option. They taught us to be responsible and they held us accountable for our own actions. Promotions to the next grade level and rewards were given only when earned; there were no free rides. Humility was a virtue and boastful pride was viewed as a flaw in character. The word “NO” was an answer that did not require an explanation and “time out” was a term used only in sports.

Yes, they, our parents and teachers, also knew how to love; they knew the strength, gentleness and the toughness of love. And by example they taught us respect for others and how to pray and to love God, country, family and each other. They knew as we approached our day that the cool morning would give way to the heat of the noonday sun and they did their best to prepare us.

The heat of the noonday came and our strength was severely tested. We too faced wars, recessions and other problems of our time. There was sweat, tears, pain, anguish and just plain ole heartache; we were knocked down, but not defeated. Like our parents before us we never counted that the world owed us anything, not even an apology. We felt the pain of loss but we never lost the will to succeed. We got up, brushed ourselves off and tried again---eventually we met with the sweetness of success. Hard times gave way to laughter and joy. Oh no! Our success is not measured in money and material things, but in the accomplishment of things that were for the common good of everyone around us. As we look back we see an accumulation of many friends, and children have been added also. And soon, in the mid-afternoon hours, there are grandchildren and later in the day the exciting expectation of great grandchildren.

Yes! Oh yes! It is a lovely day filled with the greatest treasures one can possess in this life. And now is our time to encourage the younger generation with the smile of wisdom in the early morning of their day. Now is our time to give love and compassion to our children and their children, to listen, to comfort, to brush away tears, embrace and give a helping hand in the heat of their noonday sun. And now it is our time to settle back and enjoy the fruit of our labors as we watch our treasure grow.

Yes, every day has its sunset and most of our parents and teachers and even some of our classmates have already seen the closing of their day. The time of the setting of the sun on our day will come as well, and we, the class of ’54, will behold it with a sigh and welcome its peaceful beauty as it closes our day. The evening hour will find us joining our loved ones in a restful sleep, waiting the dawning of that bright eternal day---God is so good.

James C Sanford

No comments: