commencement ceremony of the sister of Dennis E. Heitner (wall 4835) 1 day
after we received word of his death in Vietnam.
It appeared for a time at the Western Hills High School commencement last
week that those who would deny admission to God to any public school
function were finally about to be successful.
The traditional invocation and benediction were replaced in the program by
a "Call to Appreciation" and a "Call to Duty." However, the Almighty did
manage to sneak into the early part of the program in the course of the
Pledge of Allegiance, which the assembled graduates and audience dutifully
rendered in its full form complete with reference to "one nation under God."
But it was not until the closing moments of the ceremony that the
omniscient and omnipresent presence was clearly recognized by the Rev.
Donald Heitner, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, in a form that could not
be denied as an unmistakable "Call to Duty" sinularly appropriate to the occasion.
Speaking as the father of one of the graduates, Susan Heitner, he invoked
the blessing of the Almighty on all the graduates and the assembly in the
same words that he had used seven years earlier at the graduation of his
son, Dennis, from Curtis High School in Staten Island, N. Y. Word of Lt.
Heitner's death as the result of battle action in the Cambodian "fish hook"
sector had come to the family only the day before.
This benediction and the choral response that followed afforded an
impressive testimony to the hope for mortal life and the faith in an
eternal life without which any "Call to Duty" would be empty rhetoric for
those who profess belief in a Supreme Power.
We would share Pastor Heitner's words of hope and faith with our readers as
an inspiring "Call to Duty" to be heard and answered. He prayed:
|"Gracious God and Lord: Thou hast endowed the children of men with hearts and minds that can respond to the glories of Thy creation and be useful in service to one another. Grant to these graduates of Western Hills High a recognition of Thy goodness and an appreciation of Thy guidance, so that, as they go forth from these halls of learning, they may employ their talents in measures pleasing to Thee and beneficial to their fellowmen. "Remove all pride and self-sufficiency from their hearts, and give them a spirit of tolerance and temperance, of love and loyalty, that they may walk according to Thy precepts in the pathways of peace. Guide and guard those that teach and those that learn, that this nation, under Thee, may continue to enjoy Thy benediction. "Help us all to grow in knowledge and understanding, in gratitude and service, so that Thy name may be glorified and Thy people live in fellowship and harmony ever promoting those ideals that are beneficial and enduring. All that is essential for our own and our fellowman's welfare, grant us according to Thy mercy and for Thy name's sake."|