Mr. McGruder, Dr. Skipper, Dean Post, Faculty, Staff, Family, Friends and most important, Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 2016
I wish I could tell you how much I remember about the day when I graduated, how excited I was to start a new chapter in my life, having the whole world before me…. but the truth of the matter is I can’t. That was a long time ago and a lot has happened since then. I can’t begin to count how many times I hit like a sack of …potatoes.. in the middle of the night after exiting an aircraft, and then there’s always that time I was kicked in the head and trampled by my daughters’ horse. I came too two days later at UVA medical center only to find out that I had been telling all the nurses I was “DEAD SEXY”
So what can I possibly tell you that might stick with you or help you in life? What do I say? I thought about that when I was given the honor to be the speaker this evening. What do you say to someone when you know you only have about 15 or 20 minutes and you will probably never see them again? I will tell you some crazy thoughts started running through my head, I was thinking about all kinds of things, making myself laugh and then I had a vary somber and emotional thought. I thought about my son James. There was a time when he was fighting in Afghanistan and I faced this same question. What do you say?
I said the only thing I could say. “I love you son, into the valley Rode Six Hundred”. As each day pasted I became more concerned not knowing if he had received my message. With great relief I got a reply about three or four days later and all it said was “Didn’t they all die?” I busted out laughing and I knew he was going to be all right. I promptly replayed, “That’s beside the point, violence of action son, violence of action!” You see when you are in a bad spot, when things don’t look good and they’re getting really nasty or tough you have got to give everything you got, you can’t save anything. It’s been said when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath you will be successful.
So with that I say to you “Ride hard or cut leather!” You get 1 run at this thing called life, you have got to give 100%. Be passionate about whatever it is that you are doing. You are an ambassador for your blood line, your name sake, your name should be synonymous with excellence. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do therefore excellence is not an act but a habit” I can’t begin to tell you how many times the thought of loved ones and the reputation of my family name kept me going and got me through. Nothing is more important than family.
Get a Hanky. I know you think its gross but it’s not as gross as those stalagmites and stalactites hanging off the front of your face. When you are sitting in an office waiting for your “Job of a life time” interview and you sneeze you’re going to run down the hallway to get some tissue and as sure as I am standing here that’s when the receptionist is gonna come out and call your name…SNOKUM’ems ….then they will scratch your name from the list and call NEXT all because you didn’t have a hanky. If you had a hanky you could have went into your immediate action drill, corrected the problem and probably went on to become the CEO of the company.
A HANKY is good for other things too
You can wipe off your shoes with it
You can clean the side view mirror on your car with it
Wipe your lipstick
And every time you reach for it, it will remind you to keep your nose clean! Stay out of trouble and do the right thing!
Don’t trivialize your current situation. What you are doing now is IMPORTANT! So again always do your very best and give 100%. You don’t know what impact today will have on you tomorrow, next week, next year or beyond. History is full of examples of great leaders who felt they where being neglected, overlooked, or assigned to meaningless or insignificant duties. General Brock was assigned to a remote post in Canada. He was depressed and upset as all his comrades were getting all the fame and glory fighting Napoleon. He had no idea at the time that all his efforts and hard work would make him a Canadian Hero during the war of 1812 and prevent the United States from acquiring lower Ontario. General Patton, arguably one of the greatest US Generals of WWII was put in charge of a fictitious army. He was incensed that he was not to lead the invasion of Normandy. But this seemingly meaningless assignment convinced the Germans that the invasion would take place at the Pas de Calais. Without this the Normandy invasion would have most certainly failed. I got out of the army in 1980. Once out I realized I had made a mistake and tried to get back in. It took me 4 years and I was the only one out of 10 other prior service members allowed back in.
I got in because my prior service record was impeccable. I had no idea that what I had done and what I had accomplished more than 4 years earlier would have such an impact on me now and my future. Had I not been able to get back in my life would have taken a completely different course. I would not have been able to be the JROTC Army instructor I am now and I would never have met you.
Choose your friends and colleagues carefully. It has been said that we are the average of our five closest friends. We are products of our environment and we become like that with which we associate. If you want to be a bald eagle you have to hangout with Bald eagles. Toads can’t teach you how to soar. All they can teach you is how to bump your backside while hoping through the low ground looking for a place to hide. Confucius Said “A blade of grass that grows taller than its peers is the first one cut”. If you associate with those that have no desire to be great, lack motivation and have a “What Eve” mentality they will bring you down….they will turn on you and bring you down because you will force them to look at themselves and their lack of achievement and the fact that they are oxygen thieves and they are not going to like that.
Oh and by the way…. I can’t stand the phrase “What Eve” You need to strike that from your vocabulary! Everything you do effects not only you but those around you and people you will never know.
You’re also going to have to start paying more attention to what you eat. I recommend you go with the 60-40 mix. That’s 60 % binder and 40% slider. You’re gonna want enough binder to maintain control but enough slider to prevent getting bound up. Constipation is bad enough but the flip side to that is just as bad if not worse,
and sure enough as soon as you run down that hallway the receptionist is gonna call your name again.
In parting I will leave you with a few thoughts
The more you know the more you’re worth; never stop learning
You can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude; There’s more to be thankful for then there is to complain about.
Be humble in your accomplishments;
And remember life is fragile. Don’t pass up an opportunity to tell someone you love them, don’t be afraid to give someone other than me a hug and if you see an older person be polite, give them a hand, open a door for them……they undoubtedly played a part in our society and preserving our way of life.
ZHU NI HAO YUN
CHUC MAY MAN
God bless you…I wish you all the best and Gods Speed!