August 21, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 341

Debt Owed By All Who

By the time this column is printed, school will have started in some of our school districts. Not long ago, one of my grandchildren told me, “Only 20 more days until school starts.” I smiled as I heard the child’s excited voice.

Of course, part of that excitement is getting back together with your friends. The days in the first couple of weeks of the new school year are not near long enough for everyone to catch up with everyone else about their summer.

I remember how excited I was at the new school year beginning. Not only did I get to see all of my friends, but for me there was the excitement of being at the next level of my education and what lay in store for me to learn.

As a youngster I would often hear stories from elderly people about how they had not had the chance to get very far in school. That once they learned the basics of reading and writing, they had to end their school days in order to help support the family. Listening to them I was always struck by the sadness in their voices at not completing their formal education.

Education was very important to my parents. All of my grandparents had not been able to go beyond the third or fourth grade. Dad had to leave school after third grade. Mom managed to get through the seventh grade before she had to quit in order to take care of her father. And none of their brothers and sisters finished high school.....some of them had not even finished grade school.

Dad told me when I was in grade school that no matter what it took, no matter what he and Mom had to do or give up, my brother and I were going to graduate from high school. He also told me that the most important job my brother and I had was to get our education.

To me that meant we had to pay close attention in class and do the very best we could do. Nothing less would be satisfactory.

Years later I remember telling my own children some of the other lessons my dad taught me. That we are able to obtain an education because of what people have done in the past to give us that opportunity ... the sacrifices they made, their hard work, their unselfishness.

I also told them that if they didn’t do their very best, the one they hurt the most was themselves. In not doing what they were capable of they would shortchange themselves. That they were very fortunate in not only being able to complete high school, but to also go to college if they so chose.

A debt is owed by everyone who obtains an education. That debt can only be repaid by doing the very best possible while in school and by making certain school is available for all to attend just as it was made possible for us.

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