Spoken on June 4th, 2004.
"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." No, those aren't my words for all of us, but instead the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower to the troops participating in the Normandy invasion.
You see, sixty years ago, on this Sunday, a hundred and seventy-five thousand men sailed across the English Channel to Nazi-occupied France. They sailed into the unknown and for some they sailed to their fates. It was a day that changed both the world and the lives of everyone involved. Although sixty years have intervened, the situation for us on Sunday will be no different as we sail away into the unknown. For on June 6th, this Sunday, we graduate from high school.
Thus President Eisenhower's words apply to us. Not on the scale of the entire world, but on the scale of our world. What we will do on Sunday is for us, the single greatest moment of our lives, and we should acknowledge that. We should acknowledge that the hopes of our parents and family march with us. We should acknowledge that we are a generation of many gifts and talents and we should apply them to our lives and our world.
Tom Brockow called our grandparents "the greatest generation" for their efforts in saving democracy across the world. The countless accomplishments which we owe to them will forever be remembered. We though, are just beginning our lives. With high school now behind us, it is our time to make our contributions to the world. It is time for us to become the greatest generation, and if this school is representative of America, then this generation is well on its way to becoming it.
I need not remind us that we have raised the bar at Hersey. We are a class that has soared above all expectations. Whether it is the results of our test scores or our performance on the field of competition, this class has excelled at everything. We must take that tradition of excellence and apply it so that we can not only face down troubles, but thrive in all facets of the future.
Therefore, we must face our future with the same determination and courage that our grandparents faced World War Two with. We must face college worries and pressures with determination and spirit. Fear not, for we have been well equipped with knowledge and well trained by the faculty of Hersey. For four years we have not only gained knowledge but we've lived life. We've learned how to deal with real-life situations. We've been taught to think, to have opinions, to speak out. These are the real treasures that Hersey has given us all and they are what will prove most valuable to us in college and life.
Armed with that, we start over. We sever the bonds to Hersey and set forth for the unknown. We say goodbye to all the countless faculty members to whom we owe so much. We sail forth across our English Channel and that journey, that voyage begins on June 6.
And as we proverbially sail away from Hersey, we sail away from each other. For most of us, we have been through saying these goodbyes before. We've heard all the lines: "keep in touch", "friends forever", "I'll always remember you" and the countless others. I stand before you all and proudly say that I will remember all of you, and I will remember Hersey. Hersey has been good to me and so has everyone of you that I met. I will not turn my back on that and neither should any of us.
Now, I want to say a few parting words to those who will not be leaving. To the class of '07: have fun. Sophomore year is the best. To the class of '06: be strong, Junior year is very tough. To the class of '05: live it up. You'll be here where I am before you know it. To all of you, remember us, next year if you do anything, continue what we have started, bring honor and glory to Hersey if for no other reason than it is what the class of '04 asked of you.
Even as I conclude this speech the memories still flood to my brain. And yet I am not sad. June 6, 1944 was perhaps the most important day in world history but June 6, 2004 is, so far, the most important day of our lives. Like that day sixty years ago, I will make the most of it to change my life just as our grandparents used D-Day to change their world. It is my sincerest hope that on Sunday, June 6th, you follow me, no, rather that we go together into the future for one last time as the class of 2004. Goodbye, good luck, and god speed my friends.