Klein’s Speech To The Class of
Philip R. Klein, Editor
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Dr. Mathews, Mr. Donaldson, pastor Davis, students and parents, and of course to the class of 2017 – thank you for allowing me to share this day with you. It is a great day – as you have been told – it is a day you will say goodbye to the protections of home and family and wonder off into this world.
Today we see a world of challenge. We see a world of attack. We see a world of hope – and future – that is dimmed. But it will be dimmed only as we allow it to be dimmed.
Over 40 years ago I made the same walk you are making today. Over 40 years ago I got in my 1976 Ford Pinto at 5 a.m. in the morning to say goodbye to my family and friends and head to Lubbock, Texas – to Texas Tech University – to start my life in this world.
As I can smell the clean air and enjoy the sunshine that falls down upon us today – I can still remember that morning at 5 a.m. when my father walked me to the car. He told me that he wanted to share a few idea’s with me before I got into that car and left.
Today – I want to share some of those ideas with you today – as his words gave me something to think about for that long ride to Lubbock.
The first words he spoke to me set me a back. They were : “No matter what happens, no matter what is said about you, no matter what anyone thinks about you – always do the right thing.” He went on to say : “You will know what the right thing is – just do it and let the chips fall where they will. You will lean a lot about who your friends are.”
He then went on to say to me : “You will only have a handful of true friends that will stand by you during your darkest hours – and your brightest hours. They will lift you when you are down – and you will lift them as well.”
My dad was a a funny guy – he would see through things and then burst out with ideas at some of the most interesting moments.
He told me when I was 15, and learning life, “Never be the smartest kid in the room. Never be the dumbest. Be that guy in the middle that learns from the smart, learns what not to do from the dumb, and that puts you as the most dangerous man in the room.”
In another interesting time – my dad told me to “always thank a man or a woman that gives you a job. No matter what or what happens or what your relationship is with them – they didn’t have to hire you. Always leave every job just a little bit better than you found it – and say a nice thank you for your opportunity.”
As we were putting the final items in my little Ford Pinto – he told me to always love myself. He said I was who I am – and he told me that I could not love others until I learned to love myself. It was something that I hold close today.
As I walked to my door – he said don’t forget the order of life : “God, family, and everything other.” When you put your job ahead of God and Family – bad things can happen.”
Lastly, as I was getting in my car, he blurted out these final words : “Don’t ever – and I mean ever – forget where you came from. Everyday of the week I interact with people that seemingly forget where they come from. Money really changes people. Today – when you grab that diploma and walk across the stage – know that your life as you know it is over – and a new life begins. One of ups, downs, death, birth, sickness, accidents, joys, accomplishments, failures and most of all crisis. Learn to dig deep of where you come from and learn to pull those ideas, ideals, and most of all those memories of what your parents taught you.
If I had any advice to you today I would tell you :
- Don’t go out and ink your body. There are hundreds of thousands of your parents that dread the day they put ink on their skin. Back then it might of been cool – today some of the tats look like a blob of colors. Think ahead a little huh?
- Don’t think any amount of alcohol, drugs or money will solve the pain you feel at certain times of your life. It won’t – it will only make it worse. Face your problems head on. And remember – it is never the end of the world.
- Don’t forget about your parents. And remember – they did the best they could with what they had.
- Don’t forget about your friends – give them a call once a week just to say Hi. That is true friendship.
- Don’t forget about your responsibility to God and Country. Never forget this.
- Don’t forget to take a chance. Go out on the limb. Start your own business – it might be one of the greatest things you will ever know.
- Don’t forget to take time for you. If you are not good – then those around you cannot be good.
- Don’t forget to give back – if not as simple as buying the guy behind you in the take out line their lunch or breakfast – or even pick up a check – give to your fellow humans. Try and take time and volunteer to your community.
- And last – don’t forget about those that have less then you. Figure out how to help – give a hand up – because you will never know if that hand up might be a hand you need someday.
May I say now – and again – congrats. Your life is now beginning – welcome to being a taxpayer – welcome to paying taxes – and most of all welcome to the real world. It is sure to be a wonderful ride.
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