Attached is my son Daniel Jackson’s speech presented at the graduation ceremony for the 2011 class of Susan Moore High School on May 26. … I can echo his sentiments wholeheartedly. Whether or not you choose to publish this, I think it’s worth a few minutes of your time to read. Thanks and God bless. Christopher Jackson Altoona
2011 Valedictory Address
Good evening. On behalf of the class of 2011, I would like to thank everyone for their attendance at tonight’s graduation ceremony. Many of you are beaming with pride as your loved one has reached a major milestone. Transitioning to this point has been met with successes and failures; nonetheless, every event we have faced has helped shape the essence of who we are. Some of us have reached our goals, some are continuing on that journey and others are still searching for what the future holds for them. Tonight, I would like share a few words relating to the theme, “Uncertain but Certain.”
Our nation is at a threshold where uncertainty abounds in many diverse ways. Uncertainty causes instability; instability generates apprehension, apprehension drives fear, and fear tends to stunt our ability to progress in our development. Fueling the spirit of fear can cause lasting, maybe even irreversible, adverse effects in our lives and those who surround us. I would encourage our graduating class to look beyond the present and towards reshaping our nation to what it can be and to what it once was. We must be the ones to accept the responsibility that implementing change cannot be done without sacrifice and effort. Don’t wait for someone else to fix the problem or hope it just goes away. It is our responsibility; it is our duty; we can make a difference; it CAN be done.
How, you might ask? Simply put: prayer. Morality cannot be legislated nor should we expect our government to legislate it since it comes from our personal relationship with God. Without God, morality is ambiguous. Do we have the ability to discern morality within ourselves? What benchmark do we have to compare to? Many successful teams, organizations and businesses have a common set of goals established to define their direction; however, without a distinct understanding of that direction, organization fails and leadership is severely distorted, chaos is rampant, and failure is clearly imminent. Understanding the common goal or direction is necessary for success so everyone can focus their efforts in maintaining that particular cause. God never changes; so if he provides internal and eternal stability, why not let him be the leader as you progress through life’s journey? Prayer provides a wonderful communication channel to God. He is the only benchmark and cornerstone for morality, as well as a consistent direction for leadership and an unwavering foundation.
A sure, unmovable foundation promotes stability; stability breeds confidence; confidence generates ingenuity; and ingenuity creates a positive environment in which innovation can flourish. A famous quip often used by our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman states, “The Buck Stops Here.” This statement alludes to a personal responsibility of accepting your actions and not to passing the blame to others. What do we have today? It seems that our society has a mindset of victimization and no accountability of actions. We must stop this mentality and promote a positive theme within our character each and every day. Stop being a victim and be an overcomer.
Some athletes have been defined or labeled as “gamechangers.” We, as graduates of Susan Moore High School, have a responsibility to be “life-changers,” which will provide a positive impact on all who surround us. We can make a difference; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t fall into the trap of apathy, keep going when adversity abounds, and get back up if you are knocked down. There is no place to concede defeat.
In closing, whichever path my fellow seniors choose to follow, I wish nothing but the best. As years pass and we reach the point where we can reflect on our accomplishments, we shouldn’t limit the definition of a successful life to monetary gains, social status. and temporary pleasures. A good indicator of success is whether or not we have made a difference in someone’s life without a thought of our own merit. The world is full of uncertainty, but God is steadfast. Finally, I bid my fondest farewells to the class of 2011, the parents, the faculty, and all the others who helped us on our journey through these long 13 years, and even though some of us may never meet again, I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. What will the future hold? I certainly don’t know but I do know who holds the future. Thank you and God Bless.