Our future is in good hands with today’s youth

For a relatively young nation, we do appreciate our past times in this country. We love baseball, apple pie, and tearing down our neighbors so we can build ourselves up — as well as hot dogs, the spirit of entrepreneurship and peace through superior fire power.

We believe in pulling one’s self up by one’s boot straps every bit as much as we appreciate helping our fellow man, and we love building people up to celebrity status, only to equally enjoy ripping them to shreds when we feel they’ve become “too big.” Yes, we are a relatively young nation, but we are a complicated one, as well.

One of the least-discussed traditions we have built for ourselves in this country is the generational one-upmanship game. You know, older people bemoan the work ethic and intelligence of the younger set, until that age becomes older and ultimately complains about the younger generation. Come on, you’re familiar with this:

• “Kids today ...”

• “When I was that age ...”

• “I truly worry about this nation in the future ...”

• “Where did I leave the cabbage ...”

I might have skipped off track with that last one. Sorry. We’ll call it a little digression and move on to bigger and better things.

This is not to point fingers at any generation in particular. I find myself doing this more and more as I get a little older — bemoaning how kids today don’t play outside enough or can’t figure out your change at a cash register or, quite frankly, are a little spoiled. It’s criticism out of watching a handful of kids and making a hasty generalization, and I’m not necessarily proud of that fact. But I do it. And many of you do, too.

But then someone jumps out who can restore your faith in future generations, and can make you believe that this is also a younger generation that has more access to information than ever before, and that a sound work ethic will continue to be this nation’s calling card for the forseeable future.

For instance, I came across a story on yahoo.com the other day about Lori Anne Madison, a 6-year-old girl from Virginia who recently became the youngest person ever to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Madison became eligible for the competition when she won a regional qualifying contest in March, sealing the deal when she correctly spelled the word “vaquero.”

Quick show of hands: Who knew how to spell “vaquero,” and who has even heard the word before?

Tricia Titus, put down your hand. You don’t count.

Let me expound on this feel-good vibe regarding our future. I was at Indian River High School’s awards presentation night last Wednesday evening. Various local organizations were on hand to present scholarships to graduating seniors, and one could not help but be impressed by each student as his or her’s accomplishments were read aloud by the presenters.

Trust me on this. We are indeed in good hands with our local youth.

And as much as this was an evening for the future, it was also a banner evening for the school’s present and past. I originally attended the awards presentation to show support for our publisher, Susan Lyons, who was rewarded for her years of service in this community with placement in Indian River’s alumni hall of fame.

Susan has spent the last 30 years of her life working in community newspapers, including the past eight-plus years here at the Coastal Point. She was honored for her efforts in newspapers, her dedication to her alma mater of Indian River and her continued school spirit.

And it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person. It’s been my pleasure to work with Susan for about 12 years now, and hopefully my honor to work another 20 with her. Congrats, Susan.