Friday, June 1, 2007
Pass It Forward tomorrow at the Transfer Station
Now, where is that winter coat of my mother's that I stashed away in the back of the upstairs hall closet many years ago? And what about the books piled a mile high on a makeshift bookshelf in our son's bedroom, now the guest room? These are some of the items I could take to the Carlisle Transfer Station tomorrow for Pass It Forward Day. Then there is the attractive red dress, size 18, that my friend Bea picked up at the Swap Shed, had cleaned, and offered to her size-16-and-under friends. I took it home and definitely plan to donate it! It would certainly qualify as business attire for someone expecting to interview for a job.
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is Pass It Forward Day at the Carlisle Transfer Station. This is the fifth such annual event, sponsored by the Household Recycling Committee. In Carlisle, which the Boston Globe's NorthWest section noted in its April 15 issue is the most affluent town in its coverage area, with 45% of taxpayers making incomes of more than $100,000, there should be no problem finding items to donate.
Taking new or "gently used" items to the Transfer Station tomorrow, on this first weekend in June, is not an easy task for many of us, what with college graduations, reunions, weddings and children's sporting events being held during the next two days. Still, if you take a little time out today to find the items you can part with, you can get them ready to take to the Transfer Station tomorrow morning. Or if you plan to be out of town on Saturday, you might ask a neighbor or friend to take along your donations with theirs when they make their way to Pass It Forward Day.
Don't give up — there is still time to check the tool house for tools and building supplies that are no longer needed. Check the attic and cellar for all sorts of household goods — dishes, flatware, or a sofa that no one in the family wants to sit on anymore. Think of those victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, almost two years after the devastation brought on by the storms, and give to the Citizen Action Team (for Hurricane Katrina). Big Brother and Big Sister will take all kinds of clothing for both the young and the old. Books of all kinds — cookbooks, hardcover and paperback novels, non-fiction, and poetry can be donated to the Friends of the Gleason Public Library.
For those who would like to contribute to Pass It Forward Day but who will be away, or for those who have questions, contact Mary Zoll at 1-978-369-5236. You may also check the Carlisle web site www.carlisle.org for a list of receiving charities you will find at the Transfer Station tomorrow.
'Tis the season of graduations, as we celebrate the completion by friends or family of a course of study at the secondary, collegiate or post-graduate level. I've always thought it odd that the occasion is referred to as "commencement," since the event is rooted in the completion of an educational stage, even though that completion necessarily (if incidentally) coincides with the commencement of a new educational or life stage.
Our family's graduate this year will receive his high school diploma on Sunday. In Alex's case, the concept of commencement does seem more apt than that of completion. For several months, the completion of his high school education has been overshadowed by his anticipation for what is to follow. In effect, he has been in a holding pattern, simply marking time until he is allowed to move on. In the next three weeks, Alex will check off as many items as possible from a list of civilian experiences he hopes to enjoy. And then, on June 27, "Induction Day," we will deliver him to the United States Naval Academy for the commencement of his plebe summer and his military career.
Those of you who have known Alex during his time in Carlisle also know of his interest in the Academy. In fact, his desire to become a naval officer dates back to the time of our arrival in town, when Alex was four. ("By that measure," a friend observed at my recent law school reunion, "I'd be a fireman.") In early elementary school, Alex often organized his friends for military drills, and he has participated since middle school in the Navy's "Sea Cadets" program.
Karen and I always thought — in fact I will confess that part of us always hoped — that he would "outgrow" his interest in the Navy, and eventually pursue a more conventional (and civilian) career. I recognize, and deeply respect, the importance of public service, and of military defense. But in a time of global tension, I have been reluctant to see my son voluntarily undertake the very real risks that a military career entails. My conversations with Alex on that subject have been illuminating.
Precisely because of the current tensions, Alex counsels, it is important that talented young people dedicate themselves to our defense. When difficult or delicate decisions will determine the course of significant events, they should ideally be made by our best and brightest.
At previous times in our history, the voluntary enlistment of soldiers and sailors has been routine. During World War II, legions of our young men eagerly enrolled in our military defense. Since Vietnam, however, the pattern has changed. Have we lost faith in our cause, or our leaders? If the latter, why not encourage a robust pipeline of talented potential leaders?
We are proud of Alex's decision to attend the Naval Academy, and of his achievement of his lifelong dream to do so. At the same time, as parents we are acutely aware that his childhood will come to an abrupt conclusion the moment we deposit him in Annapolis, and that his chosen career will expose him to risks that we cannot imagine. The coming years will shape him in ways that will determine his future, and we can only watch from a distance. We have gradually prepared to let him go, and that moment has now arrived.
© 2007 The