From our vantage point, it's hard to remember exactly what graduation felt like. Alas, the years take a harsh toll even on the sacred benchmarks of our lives.
But we still feel a sense of the relief, the exhilaration, the expectation and, possibly, the tad bit of trepidation.
In an instant, it brings Walt Whitman back to us, the opening lines of "Song of the Open Road," perhaps the greatest poem ever written:
"Afoot and light hearted, I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me. The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose ..."
It's a joyous time for all -- for graduates, for educators and for parents and family.
Every year, we at the paper get to participate in that joy. Times and newspapers change, but we still send staff members to graduation ceremonies at every high school in the area's suburbs.
It's quite a wonderful cross section.
Quite a good deal of inspiration and advice for graduates echoes across those commencements: Make the most of your lives. Seize the day. Believe in yourselves. Improve the world. Don't place limits on yourself. Think about what really constitutes success. Remember your roots.
All wonderful and valuable messages. What could we possibly add to them?
Just this: Be kind.
You don't have to look too far to find instances of meanness, pettiness, vindictiveness. They're not just prevalent in our world. They're prevalent in our daily lives. Probably none of us gets through a day without observing, suffering or committing meanness in some way.
We come across it in traffic, at the supermarket checkout line, in the workplace, in hurtful humor and political banter. It's everywhere.
Our lives ought not to be about us against them. They ought to just be about all of us. Each of us is here for only a short time, each with the same fragile vulnerabilities, the same mortality.
As you live each day, try to remember that.
Try to remember these words, attributed to Mother Teresa:
"People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
"If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
"If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
"What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
"If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway."
"The good you do today will often be forgotten. Be good anyway.
"Give the best you have and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
"In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."