Readers’ Views

Block party blessed with success

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone in the Veterans Park neighborhood and our wider community who came to the fifth annual Veterans Park Multi-Block Party. For the fifth year in a row, we were amazed and blessed by how even the weather cooperated to warm those who gathered together on Wednesday, May 22.

Once again, the park was filled with children playing games, youth spontaneously dancing to the music, and area organizations sharing the news about what they do. Picnic tables were filled with friends, old and new, enjoying the evening and listening to music provided by Grace Tabernacle. Even after the display tables were packed up and taken away, persons lingered together in the park.

Although there was no official count of how many people attended, we served more than 480 hot dogs.

Whether you joined us for dinner, shared at an organization’s display table, fire truck or police car, helped with games or donated items, we could not have had such a great time together without you.

Thanks especially to Mayor Deb Foster and City Council members Ruth Cyphers, Randy Lubenow and Bruce Peters, who helped served the hot dog dinner.

We also greatly appreciate the great work of the city of Fairmont Parks Department, which moved picnic tables and trash barrels to the park, and were involved in working out the logistics of this enjoyable night.

Thanks again on behalf of Pastor Preston Vaughn, Grace Tabernacle Church; Pastor Marilla Whitney, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church; Pastor Jason Zuehlke, Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church; and myself.

Pastor Tony Fink,

Fairmont United Methodist Church

Graduates: You offer us optimism

To the Editor:

Allow me to set the stage: Many people are saying that our country has gone to the dogs. They worry about the ballooning government debt. About international conflict and warmongering dictators. About the country slipping back into economic recession. People are lamenting America’s decline — both spiritually and morally.

But the time that I am describing is not 2019, it is 1941, when I was where you are now, getting ready to graduate from Fairmont High School and wondering how the future would treat me.

Of course, you know about all the problems that fill the newspaper pages and cable television shows. But you probably don’t believe the prognosis and share the pessimism. In fact, you probably don’t heed the warnings and preachings of the pessimists. I’ll bet you don’t, because I didn’t when I was in your position.

Critics worry about your work ethic, but you have worked your way through school. They worry about all the time you spend on your mobile devices and that you’re becoming anti-social, but look at all the friends you’ve made. They complain about how faulty the education system is, and you answer them by excelling in academic subjects that did not even exist when they went to school.

Your parents and ancestors gave you life, but you give life energy. With your exuberant optimism and hopefulness you give us what we often cannot give ourselves. And so you deserve not a message of warning from your community, but a message of gratitude for inspiring us with your optimism and hope for the future.

Many people say that you are facing a future of little hope. But your very lives refute that. You, the students, are yourselves symbols of hope. As we proudly watch you graduate, the whole community is filled with the hope of a fresh start, that the world infused with your vitality and energy really will become a better place.

When I graduated from Fairmont High School in 1941, in the wake of the Great Depression and on the eve of a horrible world war, my classmates did not believe that the world was doomed to poverty and totalitarianism.

When my first child graduated from this same school in the 1970s, her classmates likewise did not believe that America would be destroyed by rock music, anti-war protests and urban riots. And when my last child graduated in the 1980s, she and her friends did not believe that imminent nuclear war rendered all hopes and dreams futile.

You don’t have all the experience that we, your elders have, but you do have something that we don’t have — you have exuberance for life and your hope for the future.

And so instead of commanding you to live up to the expectations of those who have helped you through your school years, instead of challenging you to fix the world for us — all good messages indeed — I pass along to you a graduation message of thanks.

In contemplating your accomplishments, I have remembered a truth that had gradually become hidden from me. My past is so much longer than yours, and I increasingly tend to view things in terms of that past. The future, to me, has come to mean the tomorrow of today. But to you, the future is not just a temporal extension of the past — it is a spiritual eagerness to begin, an optimism about newness and change.

No one can say how the world will affect you as you go out into it, but we can say how you have already affected the world, with the glowing example of your energy and optimism. You may, in fact, be the most optimistic thing in this country.

So please remember, when your critics try to convince you that the world is going to the dogs, that the future does not lie in their mind, it lies in your energy. The future does not belong to those who approach it with pessimism.

Michael G. Garry

Fairmont

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