I was in Boston last month listening to a speech in Faneuil Hall, where people have been giving speeches since 1742, including orators such as Samuel Adams, who spoke to huge throngs to encourage independence from Britain.
The speaker who held me spellbound was my 12-year-old granddaughter, Laila, recalling her years in elementary school.
The occasion was the Advent School's sixth-grade graduation, held annually in Faneuil Hall. The stately hall - nicely preserved between Boston's modern Government Center and the waterfront, on the edge of a huge marketplace - was filled with Advent School's entire student body, teachers and staff, and, of course, the proud relatives and friends of the graduates.
Five years ago, Pat and I attended my grandson Clinton's sixth-grade graduation there, so we wanted to honor Laila, too.
The celebration started with the traditional procession of graduating students, carrying an Advent School banner and led by a bagpiper, from the school to Faneuil Hall, a distance of at least a mile-and-a-half. Bostonians walk everywhere.
Each of the 16 graduating students delivered a speech, interspersed with songs sung by the younger students. Each of the graduates also performed; Laila played piano as a friend sang.
After taking a bunch of photos outside the hall, we had a family lunch at a nearby fish house. There we watched pencil-thin Laila devour an entire lobster, plus clams and oysters.
In their speeches, many of the kids talked about how scared and uncertain they were when they started school and how much they had matured through the years. They recounted their favorite school subjects, projects and field trips.
I was particularly struck by their references to making lifelong friends. I guess it's all a matter of perspective, but how many of your elementary school classmates are you still in contact with? Of course if you're as old as I am, it's harder to do.
I'll close this by sharing the last lines of Laila's speech: "Advent was the start of many adventures. That is why the word 'advent' is in adventures."
We may have a future author here!
Bob Ring's complete story of retracing his great-grandfather Eugene Ring's 1850 trek across Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec is available on his website, ringbrothershistory.com. Click on "Latest From Al and Bob Ring," then "Bob's Projects."