Peter graduated Sunday.
He's the son-in-law to-be. That's my daughter's story, anyway, and she's not inclined, at this juncture, to change her mind.
He graduated from one of the most unique places on earth, College of the Ozarks. It's a school in the Ozark hills where a student may work on campus for tuition and room and board - you can leave school with your degree in hand and not owe a dime. And - bonus - it's Christian in it's worldview.
Sunday we were there to see Peter walk and get his diploma holder - the actual diploma will get mailed later, I suppose.
The ceremony was just what you would expect it to be with all the walking and robing and tasseling and speeching. There was not, however, any 'Pomp and Circumstance'. This disappointed my wife and I don't think that her disappointment was lessened by presence of the bagpipes. Bagpipes are maybe not just what you would expect at graduation. I know I wasn't expecting them. How long do you suppose you can you listen to bagpipes play the same 16 bars repeatedly? Until Sunday I wouldn't have had a decent answer to that question. Now I know I can last long enough for the entire C of O faculty and the Class of 2007 walk into the gym and get a seat. I strongly suspect my limit is not much more than that.
One thing, though, I did not expect and for me, at least, it was the highlight of the afternoon. (Apologies to Peter) C of O has an ROTC program, that much I knew. On Sunday one young man was commissioned into the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant. He was called forward to the platform and he walked there in precise fashion. How is it that a soldier's walk can inspire you? He stood at attention (of course) and his citation and accomplishments were read aloud. His parents and his bride came forward to pin his bars onto his shoulders. Two women, one in the flower of youth, one tempered by middle-age, both tenderly loving the same warrior, decorate him in keeping with his calling.
And everyone in the gym was on their feet. Applauding, naturally.
And yet I was struck by this very fact. It was so natural for us to rise and salute this young man - why do so many not desire to honor these? Why is it seemingly unnatural in some environs? I confess, I do not understand why you wouldn't. I was surprised by the emotion I felt. And glad for it. It is right to honor his work, his desire, his preparation and his courage. You could sense it, though he stood stock still, he appeared to be going as fast as he could into what could be, for all we know, tremendous danger.
I have seen courage like this before. It was in a prison in New York. I was there for a Bible study and on my way out a bell rang. A guard asked me and those I was with to stand aside. I heard radios crackling some indistinct call. And guards, many guards, ran past us headlong into who knew what. What makes a man run into danger? A prison guard, a fireman, a policeman, a soldier. I'm not certain, but I'm grateful that they do.