Superintendent Corrine, Trustee Pam Hansen, Mayor Helen Posti, Country Councilor Dana Kriel, MLA Jason Nix, guest speaker Mrs. Leah Casey, ladies and gentlemen, family, friends and honoured graduates,
It is my pleasure to bring best wishes to the class of 2017 from the administrative team of Eckville Junior/Senior High School. Tonight, we honour you for your hard work and persistence in achieving this milestone.We wonder at the varied and limitless possibilities as you move on to the next phase of your journey. And it is that very concept of journeys that your theme embraces.
When John F Kennedy took office in 1961 the United States was being badly outpaced in the space race. So when the President stood before Congress on May 25, 1961, and proposed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Many were skeptical about the gravitas such a big audacious goal represented.
Shortly after this declaration the President explained his beliefs and motivations in a speech at Rice University.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own.
Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.
I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain
We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”
The President set the goal, confident the ingenuity, intelligence and integrity of the many people, who would play roles big and small in this collective effort would prevail. The courage to embrace demanding challenges that most would avoid, is how mankind collectively mark our progress.
So when Neil Armstrong took those first famous steps on the moon, and uttered those now famous words, yet another, “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime” moment transpired. What seemingly impossible moments will you be fortunate enough to experience in the decades ahead, one can only speculate.
So what challenges will you publicly declare, what big audacious dreams will you pursue. Whether the challenges you embrace are down the road, across the province, or around the globe embrace each opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture, befriend the people and seize the life experience presented. Never forget to embrace the unconventional. As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled, and that has made all the difference.”
Wherever you end up whichever goal you undertake, we hope you remember the good times, close friends and shared experiences of your school and your class fondly and forever. Class of 2017 the Administration wishes you safety, security and enjoyment tonight and in the future.
May the force be with you in your efforts to ,achieve your own big audacious goals which I hope follow in the spirit of a famous space pioneer, “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Bon Voyage.
-Principal Brian Holland