Wednesday, July 27, 2011

40 Years & Counting

I’m exhausted!
“Why is that, Dave,” you ask.
How profoundly astute of you to inquire.  Let me tell you.  I trust that the usual client privacy and confidentiality constraints apply. Yes?
Good.  You see, it all began last Thursday night.  Well, to be more precise, it began sometime in early March for me.    To be even more precise, and if we’re going to give a defensible record, I rather assume precision is tantamount to the effort, wouldn’t you agree?
What the Class of 71 is all about
But I digress.  After all, we’ve already worked out the technical and legal niceties, signed and witnessed, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  For the eleven others I suppose it began back in September, 2010 when a group of people met at a restaurant in Davie, Florida to plan a commemoration event of when it REALLY began; a hot September Florida morning forty three years ago in 1968 when eleven hundred of us came together under the same roof for the first time.
Miami Carol City Senior High School Graduating Class of 1971. 
I was not at that first planning meeting in September, 2010.  I actually didn’t come on board until March of this year.  By then there was some division in the group.  A majority (10-1) favored a DIY reunion.  The lone holdout felt it better to have a professional Reunion company handle the details, so he broke ties with the committee and pursued that line of reasoning, which would ultimately end in failure.  While some of the individuals who had committed to that event were able to change their plans, others were left stranded, as it were, torn between two events and two versions of how the events ended up as two instead of one.
This was complicated by the desire to be certain of a unified event because the previous graduating class ended up having two events divided primarily, but not exclusively, along race lines.  Sadly, the holdout who favored the professional company approach was partially instrumental in the divided events the previous year.
Ultimately, the majority prevailed.  Politics and our democratic system aside, majority rule doesn’t always provide the best result.  This time it did.  We had a three day event filled with activities in an almost exclusively single location, and a group of people who worked not for profit, but for the benefit of their classmates.
Friday night we had a Meet and Greet.  One of our classmates provided a beautiful cake.  Another printed the name badges.  Another DJ’d the event.  Still another flew in from Germany to provide vocal entertainment.  The DJ was from the class before ours, and the singer from the one after ours.
Saturday we met at the new high school building for a tour.  As much as our school, built in 1963, was state of the art for its time, so too the new facility, a state of the art center of learning for the 21st century.  That night we met back at the hotel for a formal dinner, dance, memorial and formal portraits.  The highlight of the evening was a speech at the end by a 2006 graduate of our school, whose mother was in our graduating class.  Our night literally spanned 35 years of alumni from our school, and his tribute to his mother and to our class left few dry eyes in the room.
Sunday morning we met for the last time at the hotel for a worship service, and in the afternoon we gathered for a picnic at a local park.  There were a lot of tears, laughs, hugs, and memories sprinkled generously amidst the great food.  This rolling sea of black and white, attired boldly in orange and black, living, loving, and celebrating, much as we did forty years ago, and in many cases making the same promises to keep in touch and not forget.
This time we have an advantage.  We have tools now that were never dreamed of forty years ago.  When we left, that steamy Sunday afternoon, we did so with a charge – One More Chief!  And we have the tools to do it!  With things like Facebook, Google-+, the internet, email, our web pages, we can keep the dream alive.  If each of us can find One More Chief, and they in turn find One More Chief, and so on, when we get together the next time, the room we held the party in this past weekend will be much, much to small.
And for all that, I’m still wound up, but I gotta tell you, I’m exhausted, but it’s a good feeling.
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