This weekend the Corsicana High School class of 65 gathers in Corsicana for their forty-fifth class reunion. I am a member of that class. I walked across the stage at CHS forty-five years ago to accept my diploma from our principal, Mr. Armistead. Like all other graduating classes we made speeches to one another about dreams and visions, about how we would change the world. In some ways, we did change the world. In other ways, the world changed us.
In our youth we watched John Glenn orbit the earth in Friendship 7, the Mercury space capsule no larger than a VW Bug. In 1963 we sat mesmerized beside the radio listening with our teachers to the breaking news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. When we walked across the stage two years later we scarcely understood the watershed moment of history in which we were living. Some of us shipped out to serve in the jungles of Vietnam, others headed off to college. We pursued our educations in a volatile world. In 1966 a sniper paralyzed the UT campus from his perch atop the UT Tower. For almost two hours he gunned down students, killing 16 and wounding 32. In 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. fell victim to a sniper bullet in Memphis. Two months later we watched Bobby Kennedy die in a pool of blood in Los Angeles. In 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on protesting students in what would become known as the “Kent State Massacre.”
We watched the world go global and we went global with it. We bought the first PCs with “floppy discs”: the Commodore 64, the Tandy and the TRS-80. We played the first video games with “Pong” and “ Pac-Man.” We bought the first mobile phones and referred to them as “ bag phones” because they looked like luggage. We created a connected world with e-mail and the World Wide Web. We flew on the first jet airliners and visited places we never expected to see. We watched the world shrink until we could be anywhere on the globe in twenty-four hours.
We married, had children, raised families, and now many of us have grandchildren. We made mistakes, did some things we regret. At times we wish we had done better. But, forty-five years after graduation, we feel blessed. We have, most of us, discovered a deeper understanding of faith that only comes after decades of laughter and sorrow, success and failure. Many of us can now say, as King David said many centuries ago, “I once was young and now am old, but I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.” We know the world is a dangerous place. It has been dangerous throughout our lifetime. But we have also discovered that God can be trusted and that His promise is true: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”