From the rear lines of the pandemic, part 6:
1. Graduation on wheels.
I’ve now covered four “drive-through” or “carline” high school graduations in this time of COVID-19, and if I had my druthers schools would do them like this from now on.
For starters, they’re much more fun to cover than the staid old everybody fight traffic to pile into a gym or stadium and watch as a bunch of teens wander across a stage to the sound of the graduation song – whatever it calls itself – while adults in caps and gowns and tassels and sashes making six figure salaries shove diplomas at them and then everybody has to go find their cars and sit in traffic until they can get out of Dodge.
That’s called an anticlimax in some circles.
Sure in a drive-through graduation you sit in a car for a while, waiting on the graduate’s name to be called, but once the diploma is distributed you get to ride off into the sunset and never come back unless you want to.
What’s more, it’s a lot more personal, which is great for those graduates who have fond memories of high school (those who don’t can grab their diploma and roll up the windows, hah!) and their teachers who get one more shot at reminding these teen wunderkinds to study hard and mind their manners and personal hygiene.
Traditionally, one of the best parts of any high school graduations are the mommas who make a racket, and if you’ve been to a graduation lately you know the mommas I’m referring to. In a stadium or arena you can hear them from across the street hollering “My BABY made it WHOOOOOOOOOO THANK YOU JESUS THANK YOU JESUS!! HAHAYHAHAHAHHAHALLILUJAH! MY BABY IS GETTING OUT THE HOUSE! AHHAHHAHHAHAHAH WHEEEEEE!.”
Most of these mommas dance a sort of end-zone or Price is Right dance while they’re at it, arms flapping every which way while they bounce up and down like human kangaroos.
I’ve found they do that in cars, too, adding car horns to the mix. One woman brought a kazoo or something and in addition to shouting “WHOOOOO!” hooted her kazoo at everybody in sight.
You don’t get to do that in the Savannah Civic Center because they check at the door for illegal kazoos or cowbells, and, speaking of cowbells, graduates or their chauffeurs had some of those too, and those and the horns and the mamas and the whooping of teachers and social-distanced air high fives and fist bumps and thumbs up from administrators and teachers made it seem a cross between a homecoming parade and the Peach Bowl halftime show, or something equally seismic.
There were tiaras on occasion from graduates who popped up through sunroofs like princesses and princes and waved at their admirers. Some kids cried, some looked bemused, a few looked like they’d rather be playing a video game, and still others apparently took it as their due to be feted such by adults who’ve had the honor of serving them these past dozen or so years and waved graciously as they were ferried past and into the future.
And some said thanks to anybody who even looked like a teacher. They’ll go far, you suspect, though one or two may have been eating cheese.
Anyway, by Saturday, so went the last of the Class of 2020 as far as I was concerned, though those who want a second act and a more formal go-around will get a chance in July in the Savannah Civic Center for a more formal ceremony.
It won’t be quite the same.
And then Monday, the annual reminder that the freedoms we enjoy have been bought and paid for by the blood of men and women who died in combat.
It was on a smaller scale this year due to COVID-19 and social distancing and all that, which canceled the usual observances, though veterans groups did their level best to pick up the slack. Fort Stewart live streamed its commemoration Monday and the Georgia National Guard conducted a series of flyovers – including one at the Glennville Veterans Cemetery where my father and my wife’s father and mother are buried, and where I’ll go one of these days, but many groups postponed their salutes until later this summer when, hopefully, one can attend such gatherings without fear.
Meanwhile, the holiday itself went on unabated. It’s the annual “start to summer,” and the beaches I’m told were full. Perhaps some there gave at least passing thought to the families of those grieving the loss of a loved one in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam. Not that they had to.
After all, it’s a free country.