A senior year unlike any other finally came to a close for Prentiss County graduates Saturday.

I spent the day attending several of the celebrations and as I watched these students mark the turning of a page in their lives, I couldn’t help but ponder what was different and what was the same this year.

Graduates still wore their traditional caps and gowns, greeted each other with smiles and picked up their diplomas. Loved ones still clapped and cried, flowers and gifts were given and prayers were prayed. It was much the same as any of the countless graduations I’ve attended over the years.

And yet, much was different. Bleachers were still filled with families, but this year those families were carefully spaced in groups six-feet apart. Hand sanitizer was seen in abundance and many in the crowd, as well as a few of the graduates, could be seen wearing masks. Though there were still plenty of well-wishers on hand, attendance was limited.

It was all a sign of these changing times as our community, country and world continue to deal with a pandemic that shows few signs of slowing down.

Independence Day is next on the calendar and I’m sure the Class of 2020 will be celebrating their own new-found independence with gusto this year.

I’m certainly grateful for our country and the freedoms were blessed to enjoy, but the very freedom that gives us our independence also requires us to depend on each other. The Pledge of Allegiance describes us as “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It’s that little word, “indivisible” I find myself pondering as I think about our graduates. It means simply and profoundly we must lean on each other and remain united if we are to survive.

Each of us is dependent upon our families, friends and neighbors. We have a responsibility and a duty to love, support and care for each other – picking each other up when we’re down and encouraging one another in difficult times.

The class of 2020 faces uncertain days ahead, but I’ve lived in Prentiss County long enough to know when things get tough we get together and make it through. More challenges are sure to come and our graduates will deal with things none of us could have imagined even a year ago, but they’ll do it knowing they have each other, their families and all of us behind them.

We’re all in this together and the more we realize, honor and celebrate that the more hope there is for a better tomorrow.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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