My dad was recently going through some old papers and came across this letter that my great grandfather wrote in response to a friend who had to speak at the local high school graduation. As our own students are preparing for their graduations very soon, I thought it appropriate to share these words, as they still ring true nearly half a century later…
You asked me to jot down something that you might quote in your talk to the boys at Christ Church School.
First, I would urge the development of Personal Integrity, the basis of character and reputation (although reputation is an ephemeral thing, easily destroyed by one unfortunate act, innate integrity lasts forever).
Secondly, Self-Reliance, the dependency upon oneself. The only worthwhile rewards in life are those earned by individual effort. Among the things I decry most in our present day is the tendency of so many of our young people to think that somebody or something owes them a good living. Unfortunately, our Federal Government has fostered and encouraged this belief. We are not entitled to anything that we do not earn.
Thirdly, Industry, the willingness to work. More frequently that otherwise the only difference between success and failure is the willingness to put forth the extra effort