Graduation usually refers to the final day of High School or College/place of higher learning. You get a paper to certify that you have completed it. Done. Finito. There is a party afterwards. Usually does not help a bit to get a job anymore ...

Version one: to say "I have graduated" means that I have completed sufficient classes/requirements to have finished some course of study and be recognized as knowing certain things (these things dependent on what level of education one is graduating from).

Version two: to say "I have graduated" means that you have actually gone through the ceremony with the cap and gown and the lines of people and various friends and family watching and constantly taking photos.

It is version two that I wish to talk about. Over the years I have had friends who refused to go to the ceremony of graduation. It was stupid, self-congratulatory and time consuming. Everyone knows you've finished the study. What is the point of the formal ceremony?

I graduated from college in May 2000, and my mother had a reason why I was going through the ritual of walking across the stage. When I complained about all the arrangements being made and the family flying into town she said, "You don't really think graduation is for you, do you?" Her point was that graduation was for the various people in my life who had invested in my education, either through time or treasure. It was their opportunity to verify that their investment had paid off and to celebrate the completion of a project. Anyone who has a degree, especially at the college level, ought to recognize that it is not merely the student's effort that gets him/her through the program. It is a cooperative effort of several people: the other students who form the study group, the spouse that works so the student can eat, the parent paying tuition, the professor offering his time, the friends providing moral support.

Graduation, the ritual, is a formal opportunity to say thank you to all these sources. Certainly there are some people who make it through on their own labors, but for most of us, we owe our success to others in some measure.

It isn't as if the ceremony is terrible. Often there is a good speaker (provided your school has worked to make it so). There's a certain pride at having all these people there for your triumph. And you get to watch your friends walk across the stage as they graduate with you.

This is graduation.

November 11th, 2008 was a very notable day in my life. It was a cool autumn day at Fort Knox, Kentucky, an atmosphere of happiness is all too present. There are four platoons of basic trainees standing in formation in front of the barracks they've lived in for about two months, and their drill sergeants actually have what may be smiles on their faces. I remember my drill sergeants that day, they were proud of us. They shook our hands and told us "congratulations, you're a soldier now". I swelled with pride, my dress greens were perfect, and my beret was formed to emphasize my facial features. I was prouder this day than I was when I graduated high school earlier that year, I didn't even attend my high school graduation ceremony.

Lined up behind the curtains of the stage we stood and waited to be presented with our certificates. We each walked up onto the stage, stated our rank, our name, and our hometown, and then marched off stage to take a seat in the auditorium. After everybody was done being introduced we all stood and waited to sing. We sang the Army song and the Armor Center March (I even remember some of it, though I don't think I can remember enough to sing it like I did that day).

After we were released from the auditorium, those who had family to witness the graduation went to spend just a few more minutes with their families, mine wasn't there, of course. I picked up my bags and waited in my platoon area, our drill sergeants wanted to give us a speech before they saw us off.

After they gave us a speech, shook our hands, and gave us some advice (mine was "You've got some good discipline, Martorano, don't lose it") we boarded our buses off to our AIT for further training, and thus ended the proudest day of my life.

Grad"u*a"tion (?), n. [LL. graduatio promotion to a degree: cf. F. graduation division into degrees.]

1.

The act of graduating, or the state of being graduated; as, graduation of a scale; graduation at a college; graduation in color; graduation by evaporation; the graduation of a bird's tail, etc.

2.

The marks on an instrument or vessel to indicate degrees or quantity; a scale.

3.

The exposure of a liquid in large surfaces to the air, so as to hasten its evaporation.

 

© Webster 1913.

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