The day after labor day in 1950, my mother took me to a place called school and left me in all alone in a room full of strange kids. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had just joined Damascus High School Class of 1963..
We were a small class, numbering sixty-five or so on that day in 1950 and slightly less than seventy at graduation. Many, like me, were part of the class for the duration. Others joined later. Some left early, but are still members. And some even left for a while and came back.
Somehow, over the course of those years, we became family. Like all families, we worked together, played together, laughed together, cried together, and even fought and scrapped with each other. And through those shared experiences, as much as through the academics we were taught, we were transformed from children to reasonably responsible and productive adult members of society.
During those years, bonds were formed that continue to this day. For most of us, those are bonds of mutual respect and friendship.
Much water has passed over the dam in the forty-nine years since we proudly received our diplomas. Twelve of our classmates have passed and are no more. With their passage, we are all diminished.
Yet we remember.
We remember so many announcements calling for Paul to report to one or another of the administrative offices that it became fashionable to ask why the administrators did not report to Paul's office instead.
We remember Donnie storming out of 8th Grade English Class and sending himself to the principal's office.
We remember Carl's little green sports car and perfect flat top haircut, Charles' wide smiles and "Cool List"', Anna's take-charge attitude and cackling laugh, and so much more.
These people were among our oldest friends and we miss them. We may go to them, but they can never return to us.
In the otherwise forgettable movie "The Long Voyage Home", John Wayne tells a young lady why he remembers the names of two men interred in lonely graves on a deserted island "The islanders have a belief that a person lives as long as his name is remembered. They were good men. They deserve that."
And so we choose remember our classmates.