With Memorial Day upon us, I wish to recognize and thank the fallen members of the American military who fought to preserve our freedoms.
This also presents an opportunity to share a long lost toast that touches on those whom we appreciate. Nine years ago as Senior Class President I was asked to give a toast to the Richardson High School graduating class of 1964 at our 50th Reunion. Later I was asked to share the toast but unfortunately could not locate my notes. Recently I stumbled upon them tucked away in the 1964 Richardson High School Eagle.. As the Class of 1964 now approaches its 60th anniversary I share these thoughts. So better late than never class of ’64 and per your request, here it is.
WHERE DID WE COME FROM?
We are the beneficiaries of what Tom Brokaw called the Greatest Generation. Our parent’s and teacher’s generation lived through the Great Depression and fought and sacrificed during World War II. From this cataclysm we benefited. We were privileged to grow up up in the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth. It is to our parents,our teachers, and our veterans that we owe special thanks for providing us the strong foundation on which we built our lives.
SO WHO ARE WE REALLY?
We grew up in the turbulent 1960s and our generation is best known for seeking racial and gender equality, protesting war, distrusting authority, taking illegal drugs, and seeking free love. And undoubtedly our class, to an extent, did all these activities and more.
Nevertheless, we had members of our class who answered the call of our nation and fought in an unpopular war in Vietnam. On a personal note I lament the death of my friend and our classmate, Lou Breuer, who was shot down and killed while flying a helicopter in Vietnam. Tragically, too many gave what Lincoln referred to as their last true measure of devotion.
Following our great start at RHS, we had classmates become doctors, lawyers, successful business people, successes in the arts and humanities, and great parents. We have had university professors including our Valedictorian Bill Skocpol, who taught physics for years at Boston College. Many of you have expressed the social consciences we developed in the 1960s and helped make our society more open, tolerant, and freedom loving. We of the class of 1964 are so much more than a simplistic caricature of the 1960s, and we can all be proud of it.
And looking around at this gathering tonight and after playing a round of golf with old friends earlier today I suspect the strongest drugs currently being used are Motrin, Aleve, caffeine, alcohol, and lots and lots of Viagra.
You ladies look particularly lovely tonight. Now it has been alleged that a little hair color and perhaps even a nip and tuck here and there have contributed to your lovely appearances. But if it is true, isn’t that who we are? Don’t we want to stay young, vibrant, and engaged? We are, after all, the 60s generation that seeks to stay relevant and not just dodder off into old age.
SO WHAT IS NEXT?
It’s hard to believe we are 50 years out from our High School graduation. And I think we are looking pretty good despite the years. But for some of our classmates the race has been run. I was saddened to see the long list of our “Fallen Eagles.” For many of us we are in the final laps of our races. Hopefully, we feel good about our lives especially since the fires in our bellies have died down a bit. Nevertheless, many of us have children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren who we affect as role models and mentors. We still have much to give and much to pass onto the next generations.
Admittedly, I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately having just completed a memoir. While the book tells the stories of very brave and inspiring patients who lived quality lives in spite of serious illness, the beginning of the book actually begins at Richardson High School with me as a lowly sophomore. RHS for all of us was my educational and social foundation and from where I began my journey into a life of medicine.
And to think that my vocation grew out of a fortuitous but painful collision with a large, senior football player. I spent the better part of a month in a local doctor’s office having my broken bone attended to and between treatments following Dr. Bill Powell in his medical clinic. I became hooked on the thought of practicing medicine. I suppose I should thank Mike Brown, the burly linebacker for the hit but it sure did hurt.
So fellow Eagles of the Class of 1964 will you raise a glass and join in toasting those who helped build our foundations in life- our parents and our teachers, our veterans, and toast to the many and impressive accomplishments of our classmates, and to those to whom we will pass the baton and who will create the future. TO US THE CLASS OF ’64!
The above referenced book was Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. My second book for a popular audience is now available, Hitler’s Maladies and Their Impact On World War II: a Behavioral Neurologist’s View. Both books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your favorite bookstore, and The Texas Tech University Press.