MY HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

9 09 2010

Authored by William Robert Barber

Over the Labor Day weekend I attended my high school reunion. This is a high school in the bustling midst of colleges and churches in Washington in western-Pennsylvania. Named after the father of this great nation, the town of Washington is proud of its steel and coal heritage. As with every city, there are the better (wealthier) and the worse (poorer) neighborhoods — Washington is no different. East Washington was very much the better. In fact, that section of the city was so influential, it gerrymandered its own school district; hence, East Washington High School.

In 1962 I left the class of ’63 for the Marines. Leaving high school at such a young age was very difficult; but I had no actionable choice. Therefore, the nostalgia for what could have been has, to this day, run the gauntlet of differing emotional intensities, and the act of leaving high school has inundated my mind ever since I boarded that train for Paris Island.

At 17 I was pure of heart and void of mind — perfect material for the Marines. It did not take very long for me to adapt to the military life but I always held the pictures of teachers and classmates of East Washington High School close within me.

So 48 years after I left the 11th grade, I reunited with several of my former classmates. Memories are susceptible to distortions. And from time to time – even in real time – one has just enough of an illusionary glow to reflect the perfect image as indiscernible. As a consequence, after some prompting, our eyes see, to some measure, the influence of yesteryear’s persona. This view of a classmate’s likeness after 48 years of maturity’s effect does have its variance of clarity; nevertheless, once the person’s personality erupts into voice and mannerism, the outer submits to the inner and the classmate of 1962 is revealed.

The reunion experience has reestablished what we all knew: That time is indiscriminate in its destruction. That even for the youthful once-upon-a-time teenager of pure heart and empty head, Father Time will extract its due. Everyone suffers as time ushers us all to a common finality. There is nothing like going to a high school reunion to validate that factual. So for the faint of heart, I would not recommend aging nor attending high school reunions.

There was a little politics in the air… nothing of real passion but I did want to hear more from a former fellow student of East Washington High who was a foreign exchange pupil from Norway. The subject that caught my interest was related to ObamaCare; Britt (sorry if the spelling is wrong) expressed her befuddlement as to why Americans did not want to help their less privileged citizens with healthcare. I did want to follow that up with some more information on her thought process but the situation just did not dictate an opportunity. Britt lives in Norway. From my observation she is a sophisticated, highly intelligent, well traveled person; she is also a person of influence and civil sway. I would be very interested in her reasoning.

For me, the primary issue of consideration is not whether or not an individual American wants to help their less than privileged fellow citizen. The issue for me is the arrogance of the central government to mandate me to pay. By what right of governess do the feds compel me to pay someone else’s healthcare bill? In America, our tradition has always been one of self-governess; in Europe, submission to the rule of government, particularly, after WWII, has been their heritage. Individual liberty for those across the pond has sold its soul to the central planning commission. The practice of socialism has eroded away any spirit of self-determination or the embracing of individualism.

Well, as once said many years ago, “We’re running out of daylight, got to move on.”

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