Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Nathan J. Minkiewicz,
Valedictorian, Class of 1999, 28 May 1999.
Used with permission.
The feelings that possess me right now are indescribable. This feeling is what people call "One in a million". There are feelings of joy, sorrow, the feeling of accomplishment and of self-satisfaction. All of these emotions are mixed together and send an awesome chill up my spine. This is the day that we have been waiting for. Today is the end of one phase of our lives and the beginning of a brand new one. This is the gateway for a brand new future, a future full of hopes and promises. Every senior came to this academy with different stories, but we are all departing on the same story. The story about how every one of us suffered through hardships, pain, joy, and sorrow to achieve our ultimate goal ... our goal to graduate together. We have reached this goal.
While we prepare to meet the world and meet all the challenges that it will present to us, we will be able to look back and smile at the memories of being at this academy. Lyman Ward has not only given us the training to be a successful person in life but it also has allowed us to make inseparable friendships. No matter where we go, this is an aspect of our lives that we will always treasure forever. Some of us will stay nearby and some of us will travel far away, but no matter where we go, we can turn back, smile and remember the undying memories of the good and the bad times that we all went through.
As I dwell a minute on my time here at Lyman Ward Military Academy, I must realize that the time here was anything but unsuccessful. This academy has taught me how to be successful in anything that I do. It has given me training that I will carry on for the rest of my life. The name Lyman Ward Military Academy sounds powerful, but it is only the superficial layer of a great institution, an institution that has allowed me to be the best that I could ever be. From the Military Department to the Academic Department, everyone has played an important part of forming me into who I am today. I want to thank all the teachers that have helped me develop, not only intellectually, but also as a person. They have all been there for support and have been there when I needed advice. Most of all, they were there to teach me the necessary skills and knowledge so that I can be successful in college.
In the Military Department, I want to give special thanks to the Tactical Officers. There were like second fathers to me and were always there to push me. Encouragement and discipline were always present and they gave me an environment that encouraged me to be a successful leader. The Tactical Officers probably have the hardest jobs here on campus, but without them this academy would not be half as good as it is now.
There is a fellow senior that I would like to bring to your attention. He is what people call a true friend. Since the two years that I have known him, he has always been there to talk about my problems, about my successes and about my sorrows. He has always listened with an attentive ear and always had advice when I needed it. His name is Ian Bloxham. By being such a good friend he gave me energy for each day and I thank him for this.
But, there are two people I want to thank the most. They are my parents. Without my parents, I would not have had the opportunity to attend Lyman Ward and be as successful as I am now. Their love and constant support gave me the inspiration to work my hardest. They gave me the opportunity to start another life after they adopted me and I am in their debt. When they sent me to this school, I had only one goal to achieve, to make them proud. That is why I strive to do the best that I can do. I believe that I have achieved this goal. Mom and Dad, I love you for everything that you have done for me. Without you, I would be lost and I would not be half that I am today. You have always been there for me in good times and bad times. Never will I forget this. I will hold these memories close to my heart forever. Thank you for your love and thank you for always giving me loving support.
As we prepare to walk across this stage, we must remember that with this Diploma, comes a great responsibility. The responsibility to take what we have learned from the academy, both academically and militarily, and make this world a better place for our future generations. We must take the time and remember what people have done for us and return the favor so our children might have the same opportunity that we have had.
As a parting word, I would like to say one more thing. Every day as you travel down the highway of life, you may come across some crossroads and bumps in that road. This might cause you to take detours or by passes, but always remember to love life and cherish every day that you are alive, because you never know when it might end. Always keep the people around you thankful and never go through life without someone. A lonely person is never happy. My time here at Lyman Ward Military Academy has taught me to always have friends and to always cherish them. This make you an overall happier and sounder person. Lastly, always be positive about life.
To my fellow seniors, have a prosperous and successful life in whatever you do and always cherish and be thankful for what you have. GOOD LUCK!
From The LWMA School Web Site - www.lwma.org
Lyman Ward Military Academy
Camp Hill, Alabama
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