The month of May brings with it the familiar sound of Pomp and Circumstance. There is something about this coming-of-age-tune that cause my eyes to moisten, my shoulders to square, and my heart to flow with pride.
Pomp and Circumstance first serenaded me in 1983 as I marched down the aisle to receive my high school diploma. Its majestic tones made me walk taller, stand straighter, and pay homage to the sacredness of the moment. And years later, when each of my four children took their own stroll to the commencement platform, Pomp and Circumstance performed just as faithfully. And before long, Pomp and Circumstance will once again majestically resonate through my soul as my grandchildren take their own trip down the graduation aisle.
There is something comforting about the once was that still is. And Pomp and Circumstance is one of those things. It resonates across generational chasms…and in a world of constant change, and disposable everything, this has meaning.
The strength of Pomp and Circumstance’s melodious nostalgia binds families together in a way that nothing else can. Grandfather can look at grandson and say, “I marched to that same music, when academia honored me as it will you today.” And in that moment, an intangible, yet powerful bond is forged.
“Remove not the ancient landmarks,” the Holy Bible admonishes in Proverbs. And in Deuteronomy it says; “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.”
Now I realize that the landmarks these verses are referring to have to do with property lines, and generational ownership, but could it be that Pomp and Circumstance is an ancient landmark of sorts? A heralding of a rite of passage? A song of accomplishment? A song of success? A song signifying change?
Yes, with the landmark of Pomp and Circumstance, we recognize that things will be different. That although we may look back with warm and fuzzy memories of our children’s or grandchildren’s high school or college days, we realize that a chapter of our lives, and the lives of those we love, has closed, and that the song isn’t just a commemoration of what has been accomplished, but it is also an announcement of a new chapter opening.
Other Songs, Other Moments
And we know that there will be other songs too. Songs that will herald other significant moments in our lives. For example, the Wedding March. Or our first child’s lullaby. And perhaps even the anthems of the United States military.
But for me, none reach so far, and feel so universal, as the graduation season that the month of May ushers in, and the song that heralds its arrival.