Dick Bernard: A graduation and a commencement.

September 9, 2012, was a remarkable day for me. It has taken till December 10, 2012, to complete this brief post.
There were two events on September 9, one immediately following the other. That day I was to meet a young man I’d never met before, 15-year old Eric Lusardi, over in New Richmond Wisconsin.
The same afternoon, a little later, was the Memorial Service for Rev. Verlyn Smith, 85, a man I cannot say I knew well, but for whom I had huge respect.
I knew Verlyn for the same reason I was about to meet Eric Lusardi: both were about the task of making the world a better place.
Eric was about to become an Eagle Scout, and his Eagle Project was to develop a Peace Garden at the local community center in his town of New Richmond WI. This was his idea, and as we all learned at the actual ceremony on September 21, he had enrolled the community in his efforts.
A main service project of his was to help the community effort called Empty Bowls, an initiative on-going since 2007.
On September 9, Eric seemed most proud to tell Melvin Giles and myself about Empty Bowls.
(click to enlarge)

Melvin Giles with the Lusardi family, September 9, 2012

Eric and Mark Lusardi explain the Empty Bowls Project September 9, 2012

In one of many ways yet to come, Eric was involved in his own commencement into the rest of his life.
I left New Richmond early, to get back to Minneapolis for the Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance” for the man I knew as Verlyn.

Verlyn was a South Dakota farm kid from west of Sioux Falls, a child of the Great Depression. He knew the hard times from experience.
The unseen markers of life took him to the Lutheran ministry, and within that ministry to the Vietnam era college ministry in California which is where, he said, he became acquainted with the Peace movement. He last ministered in the same Church at which he was buried, and he was a quiet but giant advocate for peace and justice in our world. Here is an excellent description of his life and work: Verlyn Smith001
He would have loved to meet Eric in person.

Verlyn Smith (second from right, in tan coat) one of honorees at the Nov. 5, 2010, Hawkinson Foundation* annual awards dinner.

I’m not sure what Verlyn’s hopes, dreams and aspirations were when he turned 15 in 1942, on the South Dakota prairies.
What is certain is that he added to the value of our world by his presence in the next 70 years.
It is the best that we can do, to make the world a better place by our having been part of it.
Congratulations, Eric, as your life continues, and commences.
And farewell, Verlyn**.
* – The Hawkinson Foundation website is here.
** – It is important to note, also, that one of Eric’s grandfathers passed on in the summer of 2012. Life continues.

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