Change: A Bittersweet Day for Bearkats as They Cross the Stage

A Tragic Day for Sam Houston Statewreath

Today’s post is a bit off topic in response to the tragic fatal car accident that took place on my college campus early this morning. The accident claimed three lives and one injury to date as details are frustratingly delayed, leaving Bearkats to worry and pray and even place blame. This happened after Friday’s graduation and before Saturday’s ceremonies.

The university has announced their plans to proceed with today’s commencements. I hope and pray these victims were not students (and don’t want to think about any of them being graduates), but with the accident occurring at 4:30 in the morning it appears likely. On social media, while awaiting news, people are arguing over the appropriateness of comments and accountability—whose I’m not sure. Family and friends may disagree with the decision to carry on with graduation, and I am glad I was not the one who had to make that decision.

Is There a Lesson to be Learned?

Could this be a harsh and callous reminder to recognize just how fragile life is and how precious our accomplishments are? Not to undermine the tragedy and those suffering the realities I am not yet even aware of, but my own words echo in my head. Yesterday, as a recent Sam grad myself, I spoke to my son, who plans to attend Sam Houston next year, about college and how life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan—many people never graduate. Graduation is an accomplishment to be appreciated.

It would be insensitive for me to point out the metaphor here. People are not examples. And saying we should take this a reminder or a wake up call is cruel to those whose lives changed today. I cling to hope that I did not know the victims, but it won’t ease the hurt much if I don’t. They are still fellow Bearkats and it is tragic whether I knew them or not. I don’t know what’s worse: this occurring amidst graduation or on the verge of students returning home to their families to celebrate Christmas. I think of the gifts they will never receive, the greetings that will never happen and the people who will have to gather their belongings and experience that void every time they look in an empty bedroom.

The Bittersweet Ceremony of Change

It is difficult to realize in the midst of tragedy that life goes on, but lives are changing today. Our people lost loved ones today—family and friends, students and classmates. Today, our graduates gain their degrees and passports to a new life. This day marks change: an administration that will develop new policies and capabilities to prevent accidents and handle emergencies, a campus that will never again experience the presence of these students, a graduation of courage and community and bittersweet memories. This is a day to recognize change. The world keeps spinning, but our lives are impacted and our hearts are heavy as we celebrate our graduates and grieve our loss.

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