The official definition of Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony that goes with it. You’d have to be living on the moon not to know it’s Graduation time of year.
Schools from the hallowed halls of collegiate academia to Dottie’s Day Care hold ceremonies and no doubt you know someone, or have a relative, or neighbor who’s in one! It’s a big deal and rightfully so, it signals an accomplishment of a mission; to finally get out!
But let’s take the term and liberalize it a bit. How about Graduating from riding your bike or trike without training wheels. Or how about Graduating from driving with a learners permit and an adult supervising you while you do it, to the wonderful time when you could do it by yourself! How about when you Graduated from playing ball in the park with kids to playing with the big kids on a regulation ball field. Or when you Graduated from being too shy to ask someone out for a date to the suave and debonair approach you use today. When you Graduated from being a bus boy to becoming a real waiter? Heck women always laugh about Graduating from their ‘training bras’!
In my case four Graduations stand out in my memory. The first one was when I Graduated from Basic Training in the Air Force at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio Texas. The second one was Graduating from Guided Missile School in Orlando Florida. The combination of those two Graduations propelled me to whole new world; an assignment on the island often referred to as ‘the rock’; Okinawa. It was there on that military dominated island that I had a double Graduation. The first one was when JFK was assassinated. I was a young airman who was on duty in the middle of the night when the news hit. Suddenly I Graduated from being merely a worker in an underground missile complex to an airman on red alert as the countdown procedures began. At that moment the feeling among the top brass was that this was a precursor to a war. No longer was I an underclassman, now I was part of running the real big show!
Fortunately calmer heads prevailed and we continued on with our lives but I began to seriously count my days left until I could Graduate from ‘the rock’ and return to a life after the military. Well, that Graduation ceremony finally came and in the tradition of Graduations from the island my buddies and I bought bottles of Segrams VO Whisky, took off the yellow ribbon that adorned the neck of the bottle, and proudly placed the ribbons in our uniform button holes. That signified us as ‘short timers’ and on Graduation day we stood at attention on the base runway, saluted the Commander of the base, and boarded a plane for the USA. My Graduation present that day I still hold dearly in my memory; the sight of ‘the rock’ disappearing from sight as we rose into the clear blue sky.
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Added 09 June, 2007 by Rick