If I was offered the opportunity to observe a particular day in history, I might choose February 23, 1957. That is fifty-five years ago today, the day my parents were married in the Methodist Church in Benton, PA. I wish I could have been there.

Both of my parents grew up in Benton, so their wedding was full of local people. In attendance were at least a few of my great-grandparents, all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, and many of my parents’ friends. How interesting it would be to see how they interacted and celebrated. Did they talk about local politics, the upcoming planting season, and high school sports? Did they talk about national and international issues? I would love to¬†eavesdrop on their conversations. That was the community into which I was born a year later. That was the environment that shaped who I am.

In 1957, my parents were in their 20s and my grandparents were about the age I am now. I wonder if any of my grandparents, great-aunts, or great-uncles wondered, “What will the world be like when this young couple’s children reach my age?” Did any of them foresee that I would be born and eventually become his or her age?

I wonder if, on my parents’ wedding day, my ancestors determined to live in such a manner that the world would be better for me and my generation because they lived? I think they did. Most of those people remained married to each other even when their marriages were no longer fun. They chose to live lives of integrity when they were tempted to cheat. They fought through disappointments and difficulties. They chose to persevere because they knew that would be best for the subsequent generations. Their faithfulness provided a stable place from which I stepped into this turbulent world and to which I have often returned.

My parents are still alive, but many who attended their wedding are not. Nevertheless, I say, “Thank you” to my parents and the others who persevered and lived exemplary lives. I am standing on your shoulders. May I follow your example!