Allow me to wax deep, if not eloquent, on the subject of Governor Palin’s commencement address at Republic High School on Saturday. Like others who have watched the video of her speech, I was struck most by the story she shared about how the people of that same small town helped her father in his time of need and sent him onward to his destiny. Alaska, the Last Frontier, was Chuck Heath, Sr’s dream, getting there marked the start of a brand new life, and the three month old awaiting her daddy would later realize some dreams of her own.
What are the chances that this high school graduating class would conceive its own dream–a big one–to bring a former vice presidential candidate to their small town to speak to a mere 27 graduates in a modest gymnasium? What are the chances that they would be so bold as to pursue that dream and take steps to make it come true? Furthermore, what are the chances that Governor Palin, amid a plethora of invitations, no doubt, to speak before companies, meet with candidates, and rally conservatives all across the country would respond in the affirmative? Slim to none seems to be the obvious answer. History, however, will relay a different response.
The members of Republic High School’s graduating class of 2013 were students when they set out on this endeavor to secure Governor Palin’s participation in their graduation, but they taught the rest of us a lesson in the age-old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
There’s another lesson reverberating here. It’s one we simply cannot ignore; even skeptics would think twice and reconsider their doubts after hearing Mr. Heath’s story. It’s one we hear quite often from Governor Palin: “There’s no such thing as coincidence,” she says. Republic, Washington took care of her father 49 years prior. Forty nine years later, almost to the very day, she stood before the graduates as the former governor of that very state to which those who came before them sent her dad. Again, the Governor would say, “No coincidences.”
Something stands out even more to me, however. The law of the harvest: the truths of sowing and reaping. Farmers are well aware of how it works. If you sow in good ground, you reap a harvest; you always reap more than you sow; and sometimes someone else, someone who comes by later, benefits from the seeds you’ve sown, enjoys the fruit of your labors.
These 27 graduates had not yet been born 49 years ago to befriend Mr. Heath in a diner, fix his car, or charge him only a miniscule fraction of the bill he incurred. They did not sow, metaphorically speaking, into his life. Maybe an aunt did, or an uncle, or a grandparent. But not they. Nonetheless, they represent the law of the harvest. Mr. Heath has proven to be good ground. Getting him on his way to his dream got him to his family waiting in Alaska whom he raised with a firm, loving hand and a work ethic that would remain with them for a lifetime. Getting him there meant he could raise that three month old daughter there, who would become the mayor of a small town, the governor of the largest state, and the vice presidential candidate of the world’s most exceptional nation. Indeed, he was good ground in which to sow. The mechanic, Mr. Carter, charged him only $10 for all his hard work back in 1964. All these years later, the Class of 2013 became the beneficiaries of gratefulness, as Governor Palin more than repaid that “debt.” Not only did she not charge them for the expense of attending their graduation, she came bearing gifts for them. These youth reaped where they had not sown, gathered more than those who came before had planted, and did so in a totally different season.
I take away from this the understanding that we must never underestimate the impact of any one moment in time. We, as Americans, should especially understand this, for we are the beneficiaries of the freedoms secured by those who came before us, who paid the ultimate price. And if we do our part, our three month olds, and five year olds, and twenty years olds will be able to accomplish their dreams as a result. And if we all really commit ourselves to being bold and tenacious and undaunted–no matter how seemingly small our chances–we will leave this Republic, not just having taken from it, but having left gifts behind for those who are waiting in the wings to take to the stage of their lives and to walk into the destinies that await them.