Every once in a while, a story comes along that inspires us, leads us to see another person’s perspective, and moves the human race forward. It’s important to reflect on these kinds of stories because they impact us, they stick with us, and they encourage us and lead us to stay strong in our convictions.
This past December I graduated from graduate school. Several graduates were the average age, early twenties, some early thirties, and a few that were a bit older. In the midst of the graduation festivities, there was an individual that walked across the stage that was older in age (my guess is late 60’s), struggling to walk across the stage, he had a someone on his side making sure he made it okay and did not stumble.
Once he officially received his degree, everyone cheered! People stood up in honor of him, not even knowing the full story, but knowing that his journey to completing his education was an accomplishment to be admired. Turns out that his journey to completing his degree was actually quite a story. In the 1960’s, the man had been a student at Lee University and was one semester away from graduating with his degree when he was called home for a family tragedy. Instead of staying at Lee to finish, the man faithfully returned to his family to take care of them and care for them through the heartbreak that had taken place.
Soon after his family tragedy, he was drafted in the Vietnam War. Personally, I don’t know a lot about the Vietnam war so I looked up a few facts to help give context to the story.
A few facts on the Vietnam War:
-2.5 million GI’s served in the Vietnam War from 1956-1975
-2/3 of those GI’S was volunteers while 1/3 of them were drafted
-The average age of those serving was 21
-They were the best educated of any American force thus far
-The average infantryman saw 240 days of combat in one year
-1/10 soldiers were killed or injured
-Total 58, 214 American soldiers died in Vietnam
-There are still 1700 Americans unaccounted for
After serving in the Vietnam War, the man came home and started a family. Life began and people continued to move on, while finishing his degree kept getting pushed back again and again. Until later in life, his kids grew, his grandkids probably grew, and then he decided he was going to finish what he started. Granted, I do not know the complete details of why he chose to finish his degree after all of these years, but one can surmise that he simply wanted to do it for himself. Maybe he wanted to set an example for his family or felt like he wanted to go back to school just to do it.
Whatever his reason for going back to school to finish that last semester in the end, there is something very admirable to be said of him. It is never too late to finish what you start. Though this is a lesson that we hear often, it is one that never gets old. Tragedy can occur and war can take over but in the end, it still is never too late to do what you want in life.