A life of memories, a year of reckoning for 2020 seniors

Members of the Class of 2020:

You will forever be known at the Class of 19 — COVID-19, the virus that caused your 12 years of education to end in 11 3/4.

Like any group of young people reaching a milestone, yours has know good and bad. Believe it or not, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in the United States in 2001, as you were coming into the world: Anthrax, spread by a month-long act of bioterrorism.

That same year — you were too young to know then, but know all about it now — was the most deadly act of terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil, when a group fueled by radical Islam flew jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth plane, aimed for the U.S. Capitol, was commandeered by passengers and crashed in a field in Western Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t an entirely bad year — 2001 also brought us iTunes, which has revolutionized the way we buy, carry and listen to music.

You haven’t lived a day without small-dish satellite television, Wi-Fi or hybrid automobiles.

Gasoline is at its lowest price in your lifetime right now, as far down as it’s been since 2005 — before you started school (of course, your parents can remember the price hovering around a dollar; your grandparents less than 50 cents).

As many of you were finishing your first year of school, streaming television came along. The same year we were introduced to another new concept — the iPhone.

In a week, SpaceX — a company about your age — will take humans into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since you were in grade school. That was on the final Space Shuttle launch, the 135th of that program that began when some of your parents were teens. SpaceX preceded Elon Musk’s more famous company, Tesla, which began producing electric cars when you were learning to walk.

Your sacrifices are notable, especially those who were likely to find the highest levels of success in your co-curricular pursuits, all canceled — even some from winter.

No, you didn’t get any pomp, because of the circumstance.

We can’t explain why the governor is OK with you standing in line at a store but not in a stadium to collect your diploma. We know you have the community’s support, though — witness all the signs around town.

And you have shown early a level of maturity not expected of folks your age. You are well-represented by a young man in Atlanta, who as part of a television station’s montage of class presidents promised you would look out for one another “so the class of 2021 can walk across the stage. Next year.”

There’s an old saying that, like a tea bag, we show our true strength only when placed in hot water. You are proving each day that you are a strong brew.


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