My wife and I are at my high school’s 45th class reunion. Yes, it has been 45 years since I graduated from high school in 1969. I am now a nearly bald, fat (oops, weight-challenged), happy grandfather. Back then, I was a confused 17 year old who probably should have waited a year or two to go to college. That was not an option. That was not how it was done back then. If you took a year off, it meant you would lose your draft deferment and be sent to Viet Nam. As it turned out, I was drafted two years later anyway, but that is another story.
Within two and 1/2 months of my graduation, the now-legendary Woodstock festival would take place. Only two years before, in 1967, over 100,000 people converged on San Francisco in what became known as the “Summer of Love.” The Battle of Khe Sanh took place over several months in 1968. That year, 1968, was a terrible year. During the time of the Battle of Khe Sanh in Viet Nam, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in the USA. Later that year, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in the USA. Also in 1968, the My Lai massacre took place. For those of us whose senior year was 1968-1969, the USA and the world were confusing places. Our American culture was over-heating, straining at the seams, and showing strong signs of cracking. I was not yet a citizen, and was still to be a citizen when I was drafted. Yes, one could be drafted without even being a citizen. One of the great ironies of the USA is that it would have been possible for me to have been killed for the USA while having never been granted citizenship.
It was a confusing time and I was a confused teenager, as I said earlier. But it is 45 years later, and how times have changed. This is the first high school reunion that I have attended. About a third of us are retired. Thankfully not one person was interested in politics. No one was discussing events of great import. We were much more interested in talking about our grandchildren, our retirement (or upcoming retirement), etc. We reminisced some about those who have already left us in this life. Mostly we enjoyed ourselves with anecdotes about jokes played, frustrating teachers, exemplary teachers, etc. We remembered high school sports. Mainly, we just remembered.
There is something to be said for memories, for grandchildren, for peace, for relaxation. There is something to be said for old friendships, for comradeship, for remembrance, and for joy. It has been a good weekend.