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A Father's Commencement Address


Gregory J. Rummo

JUNE 14, 2002


I just can't believe it.

As you walked down the aisle last night at graduation and received your diploma I asked myself: Has it really been almost fourteen years, my son?

It seems like only yesterday when I held you in my arms in the hospital room on the day you were born. You were all wrapped up like a little papoose and your eyes were closed. “He’s so beautiful,” I remember saying to your mom.

You were born on a Sunday. A wise old German man told me that special children are born on the Lord’s Day. We brought you home appropriately on Thanksgiving, and dedicated you to the Lord on Christmas morning.

I remember during the dedication service that Sunday, pastor read the story from the book of I Samuel about Hannah and how overjoyed she was when her first-born son Samuel came into the world. She dedicated him to the Lord too, saying: “I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD."

Son, there’s several things I wish to remind you about now that you are a teenager and will soon embark on your journey through high school.

Remember that lots of people are going to try to tell you what to do with your life over the next four years. Some of those people will have your best interests in mind and others will not.

I want you to cultivate relationships with the first group of people. You might have to make decisions that some of your friends will characterize as “unpopular.” It might require you to say “no” to something offered to you. You may even have to end a relationship with someone whom others think is “cool” and they’ll try to talk you out of it.

Remember the words of the wise King Solomon: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

I also want you to remember that whatever it is you do, do it enthusiastically with heart—whether it’s something fun like playing soccer or something boring like vacuuming the living room.

When it comes to your studies, I want you to promise that you will be diligent and that you will simply try your best. I want you to be honest always, for honesty is its own reward. And I want you to promise you’ll take no shortcuts and you’ll do your own work.

While good grades are important, character stands head and shoulders above a numerical average. Out here in the real world, the dishonest and the short cutters usually don’t succeed. It’s character and hard work that counts. Those who have tried to convince us in recent years that character doesn’t matter simply don’t have a clue what life’s all about. Frankly, I don’t know how they look at themselves in the mirror or sleep at night. And to get good grades, you’ll need a good night’s sleep.

I want you to remember what pastor said to you and your classmates during his challenge at commencement last night when he placed a Sacajawea gold dollar into everyone’s hand. “Keep this in a special place and let it be a reminder to you of your life—which you are free to spend anyway you wish. But you can only spend it once.”

And lastly, remember that your mother and I love you and our love will never be conditioned on your performance.

It will always be unconditional and a result of our relationship with you as your parents.


Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist and author of “The View from
the Grass Roots.” You can read all of his columns on The Live Wire at . E-mail the author at


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