Board Chair Don Hayes during his service in the Vietnam War.
Every year at graduation, we hear a lot of great speeches from students, principals and others. This year, one speech stood out for me. That speech was the acceptance of the class speech by Board Chair Don Hayes. Don is a veteran who takes a lot of pride in his country and his service during the Vietnam War. As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, I thought I would share his remarks with you. With his permission, I have reprinted them here.
On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to welcome everyone here to graduation. Congratulations to the Class of 2014! We celebrate with you and your families as you celebrate this graduation day; a graduation day, that also happens to be Flag Day. Now, as a former history teacher, I think I need to say a few things about Flag Day. Two hundred and thirty seven years ago today, the 2nd Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution of 1777 in order to establish an official flag for the new nation.
There have been observances over the years, but Flag Day was not officially signed into law until President Truman did so in 1949.
What I want to share with you is part of a Flag Day address delivered by Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane, on June 14th, 1914. Secretary Lane is a having a conversation with the flag and the flag is telling him what makes up the flag.
“The work that you do, that is the making of the flag. I am whatever you make me, nothing more. I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what you may become.
I live a changing life, a life of moods and passions, of heartbreaks and tired muscles.
Sometimes I am strong with pride when honest work is done. Sometimes I droop, for then, purpose has gone from me and cynically, I play the coward. But always, I am all that you hope to be and have the courage to try for.
I am song and fear, struggle, and panic and ennobling hope. I am the day’s work of the weakest man and the largest dream of the most daring.
I am the Constitution and the courts.
I am the battle of yesterday and the mistake of tomorrow.
I am the mystery of the men who do without knowing why.
I am no more than you believe me to be and I am all that you believe I can be.
I am what you make me, nothing more.
I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.
My stars and my stripes are your dreams and your labors.
They are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your hearts; for you are the makers of the flag, and it is well that you glory in the making.”
Today, you graduate. How will you contribute to the continued making of the flag in the future? Is it higher education or a full time job?
Some of you have decided to serve your country by joining the military and I would like to recognize you for that future service. We live in perilous times, and we thank those that have served, those that serve today and those that will have the honor to serve. Those decisions to serve make this Flag Day and this graduation possible.
God bless you, and remember graduates, when you see that flag waving in the breeze, it represents you and all that you can become.