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Valedictorian Speech

Valedictory Address Everett High School 1949 George Keverian Age 18:

Parents, teachers, friends,

We, the class of 1949, are part of a great country, a nation made into a great democracy by the people who came before us. Like other classes, we in Everett are stepping forth into a world where we shall have the boundless privilege as well as the staggering responsibility of being participators, as perhaps none before us, in determining what kind of world this is to be in future years.

Democracy, if it is to survive, must be born anew in the hearts of each generation of youth.

We, who desire this democracy above all things, must take it seriously. We can help its growth by our knowledge of it, and above all, by our service to it.

Through the ages, men, and women have served in various capacities. Some have aided the sick and wounded; some have dedicated themselves to the social betterment of the less fortunate, some have given their very lives that this nation might live.

To help a worthy cause is an honor. The degree of the honor is determined by the quality of the service, not by its type, for as Browning says, “All service ranks the same with God, whose puppets, best and worst are we: There is no last nor first”

Every one of us can be of aid. No one need to look in vain for such opportutnies. Literature is full of examples of simple service. From Swift's “Gulliver's Travels”, we learn that “whoever could make two ears of corn of two blads of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before would do essential service to his country”, and Wordsworth says, “the daisy by the shadow that it casts, protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun.” So, we see, that there is always something to do, to promote, to assil, to protect, to endure, or to comfort.

Service should not be rendered as a favor conferred, or as a debt, but as a simple, natural devotion to our fellow man. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the power, “The Bridge Builder.”

As an old man going a long highway
Came at the evening old and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man”, said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide
Why build the bridge at eventide?”
“Good friend, in the path I've come”, he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim
Good friend, I'm building the bridge for him”

Talking our lead from the bridge-builder, let us so fashion our lives that we may be of inestimable service to those who follow in our wake. Let us have faith in God, in country, and in humanity. Let us so perform our daily tasks in our station, be it high or low, so that future generations will be imbued with our sincerity of purpose. Let us have hope that they too may lend a helping hand to those in need. No matter how great the obstacles, let us put forth our strength in the cause of right and justice. This will mean no little sacrifice in a cold and sometimes heartless world. But through perseverance, with charity toward all and malice toward none, with God's help, we too shall build our bridge of service.