KP: Driving by my old high school I just had to
stop. For decades this rural town's
tradition has survived...it's just what you do
on the day before graduation. Some towns have
graffiti. In Tulelake the graduating seniors
decorate the streets with art from their souls.
The first song I heard was country western,
about being proud to be an American. The next
one was in Spanish. The music kept alternating.
An old neighbor and school employee brought
it to my attention that the girl on the right
was painting her picture...a combination of an
American Flag and a Mexican Flag. She
posed with pride...she carefully was painting
who she is.
Then I was approached by Josh Deeton, photo
on the left. He explained who was painting
the American Flag; "My three friends painting
this flag are going in to the Marines after
graduation." He said that since they were going
to serve their country, the flag was
appropriate. Another graduate, Sean Sein, came
up and explained that he wants to go into the
military too but it will be awhile before he is
It was hard to walk away. As parents
and grandparents and farmers and caretakers of
our environment, there is nothing we are prouder
of than our youth.
They know who they are...they don't have
They grew up with responsibilities.
They know about land and freedom and economy.
Their fathers and/or neighbors till the soil.
They see the dirt, the sprouts and the harvest.
They know the wildlife...there isn't a bus
ride that they don't see a sky filled with
geese, fields with antelope and deer and
coyotes, and ditches filled with birds and frogs
And they have lived through a year without
freedom. They remember 2001, what their
government did to our wildlife, our farms, our
businesses and our schools. They remember
the auctions, the dirt blowing away with no
crops, their parents crying and their
grandparents crying. Their friends, especially
their Hispanic friends, had to move away before
graduating from high school. They remember
the suicides and divorces and bankruptcies.
Today I was so very proud to be part of this
community...a community with young adults who
know and understand what freedom means. They
plan to give their lives so you and I can be