My 92 year-old Pop was Willows High School Valedictorian in 1944 (among other cool things, but that’s another blog post). Cleaning out some of his memorabilia recently, my brother and I came across his Valedictorian Speech, and felt his words were both poignant and relevant to some of the world’s issues and concerns today.

A handsome devil at 18 – Pop’s senior portrait.

It’s incredible to think that young Dean Bailey would graduate from high school and immediately volunteer to join the US Army and fight in World War II. Rather than me try to paraphrase, I’ve posted a photo of his speech below, written on his old Corona typewriter and complete with his handwritten edits and additions.

“Our leaders in political and community life must be capable, intelligent and honest, worthy of the faith of the people. It is their business to guard the interests of our country that makes it possible for us to live the way we want to live”Wow.

Returning home, Pop looks older and a bit more world-weary.

What a cool guy, my Pop, and so eloquent at such a tender young age. Innocence forever lost, but so much gained in the process. Thank you Pop, and thanks to all the men and women who gave everything to ensure our freedom, 73 years ago.

And today.