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"Did you hear that?" "It's Saturday night and you can hear all kinds of things on Saturday night, can't you?" "But this Saturday night is different, isn't it?" "Yes," was the response, "But listen, there it goes again."

To lots of people who heard those rumbles of thunder it was a good sign. After all, the grass was starting to turn brown and some of the trees were beginning to shed leaves. A good rain was needed to perk up the crops and also to cool things off.

But to a crowd of people who were gathering at the school football stadium it meant only one thing. The graduation ceremony for more than a hundred seniors would have to be postponed again. It was for the Class of 2020. It was one of many things in the year 2020 that started out with many positive possibilities. Isn't 20/20 always sought by people who hope a pair of new glasses will help that perfect 20/20 sight return? And isn't this the year the mortgage is going to be paid off? And what about trading that old car in for a new one; isn't that past due? And how about that vacation we've been planning for two years? Even the stock market is heading for a new high.

Isn't that what everybody was talking about on the recent Saturday night (make that evening) when a few rumbles of thunder and a very few drops of rain resulted in rescheduling the graduation ceremony for the next day ... and even though it was not the same, it was a great success. The seniors were especially happy as their parents, relatives and friends ignored the hot afternoon to celebrate and congratulate, with pride, a group of young adults who have taken the last of those 12 years of steps and a new life begins, not just for the students but for the rest of us as we too look forward to the great accomplishments which await a great group of young people. And that is true not only for those Gravette students but for all the rest of the graduates in Westside Eagle Observer country. They all had graduations that were different from normal years.

Yes, even though 2020 seemed to be a normal year when the old scythe carrier handed over the reins to a smiling young lad who wore those numbers 2020 across his chest. His eyes were lit with a glistening sparkle and his smile was broad and anxious as he accepted his duty to face and conquer whatever was ahead as those 2020 days progressed to 2021. How strange and how quickly those smiles, worldwide, disappeared, brows furrowed. There are still many unknowns as not only the graduates but all of us face the ensuing challenges ... unexpected and seemingly unchangeable.

These graduates have faced these challenges with determination and are forming a foundation that will help them as those yet unknown challenges occur in all the years ahead. Hopefully, there will not be such a rare corona-type, virus-type challenge test again, not at least for another hundred years.

As mentioned in the last 'cuff, it was such a challenge that faced our forefathers a century ago when that flu, called Spanish flu, hit the world with a destructive force. It was almost two years later when things returned to a semblance of normality. They faced problems back in 1918-1920 which today's generation does not have to face; our problems are on a different level. But we can take a lesson on how they were able to regroup and the nation progressed for another century. It wasn't easy then; it surely isn't easy now.

But there are two cures today as there were a century ago to help us all through this time in our lives. And what are they? Could it be "time" which requires us to be patient and to have "faith" that being good citizens will enable the nation and the world ... and each of us ... to return to those "good old days" we enjoyed until that last pandemic monster arrived from the Orient.

Is it easy? Will it get easier? You know the answer. It is a challenge which once again will return the good old U.S.A. which has brought all of the goodness we have enjoyed for so many years, and by honestly accepting faith in that one who holds our hands and gives us continual reassurance. It is not politics or politicians, not a party, not splintering groups who fight to destroy our patience and faith. It ain't easy, folks; it ain't easy, grads. I wonder if you saw the 'cuff back in May when I dedicated the words of a man from a century ago in what became "The American's Creed" and which words are right for today. William Tyler Page wrote the challenge for all time and those words are worth repeating. They follow:

"The American's Creed"

"I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a Democracy in a Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

"I, therefore, believe it is my duty to my Country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flags; and to defend it against all enemies."

Thunder and lightning can be challenges, but patience and faith and sunshine can create new beginnings. And so, grads (and all of us), isn't it time to employ that creed which can lead to an even better U.S.A., as we build/create a legacy that tomorrow's generations can hold up with pride. Congratulations and best wishes for the days, months and years ahead.

Dodie Evans is the former editor and owner of the "Gravette News Herald." Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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