Late spring in Maine brings many new beginnings, including numerous college and high school graduations. It is a ceremony of passage, leaving one place, one step in life, and leaping to the next.
America’s youth are worldlier and possess more technological aptitude than any generation before them, giving them tools to meet challenges unforeseen barely a decade ago. They have grown up in relative security with few of the health and societal issues that befell their grandparents’ generations — adults who witnessed the explosion of screens large and small, the arrival of the internet, plus the convenience of today’s unlimited travel and expanded health-care capabilities. Our young people are perhaps less attached to local roots, the closeness of family and the intimacy of community, because their world has been larger, more inviting and usually very interesting.
Our societies live longer today and we are richer, with many more amenities and conveniences than two generations ago. There also is the wealth of perspective, of having seen more changes, experienced more of life’s difficulties and challenges. The lessons learned from them leave us with a firm appreciation for the advancements that science and medicine have enabled in our lives. Indeed, despite contrived acrimony and contentious political messages, we are living in the best of times.
We have seen history and watched as it so often repeats itself — both in content and characterizations — lessons our youth have yet to experience. It is our obligation to ensure that they never forget how we got to today, that we always strive never to ignore nor repeat the previous mistakes in history. It is better to take a long view and avoid the trappings of surface knowledge and efforts for immediate gratification.
Our graduates today have broader horizons than ever before. They have confidence in what they know, a pride that sweeps aside concerns for what is unknown. They have much to be proud of — as do the families that support them, the communities that need their success. We congratulate them all and encourage each and every student to stretch the world we share.
America’s youth come of age every spring, every June. They say that sometimes the days seem long, yet the years pass by quickly. Seize the opportunity of life, graduates, and continue the traditions of making a positive impact for all.