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Memorial Event • Ernest Davenport

Prepared for E.W. Deavenport, President, Eastman Chemical Co.
Delivered at Memorial Dedication, Colonial Heights, Tennessee

Good morning.

Coming back to Colonial Heights is coming home.

I lived in the shadow of this school--my daughter attended here, my son played little league on your lot, my wife and I frowned and looked concerned at parent-teacher conferences here.

Looking backward, there is always a nostalgia, a remembrance of those who've moved on... or passed on, of people who have grown up... or grown distant.

Thomas Wolfe was right, You really can't go home again.

Yet it's good, and right, that we stop, that we remember, and yes -- even that we mourn.

At such times, I am reminded of John Donne's words that: "No man is an island... Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... therefore, any man's death diminishes me..."

When a friend dies, we are diminished. We morn not for that friend, but for that part of our life that is lost.
When a child dies, we are diminished far more. For the child is our future. The loss of a child is the loss of hope...of potential unactualized... of dreams unfulfilled.

How do we deal with such overwhelming loss?

By appreciating the children that we still have -- in our homes, in our communities, and in our world.
By redoubling our commitment as parents. For death is not the only way we lose our children. We lose child every day to drugs... We lose children's futures to poor education... We lose children's opportunities by our society's indifference to their futures.

And yes, All of us are diminished.

I consider myself indeed blessed because I grew up in a small community with very large expectations for its kids. I didn't just have two parents, I had hundreds.. all concerned, all caring. They understood that my future was there future.

Potential burns like a candle in the heart of every child.

When one of those candles is neglected...allowed to go out...the world is, indeed, a darker place.

In Colonial Heights School, you are fortunate to have so many caring people... parents... teachers... administrators...who are genuinely committed to sheltering and nurturing the flame of youth.

I can think of no better way to honor the children who have passed than to let the warmth of their memories rekindle our parental flames...

...To fan the spark inspired by the love of a single child so that it may grow to warm a community of children...in Tennessee...in America ... and in the world.

They are all our children.

With our help -- and only with our help -- they will light the way to a brighter future.

Thank you.

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