Sussex County History Today: Our youth

| 18 Jun 2024 | 11:25

Mid-June is the time for graduation in our Sussex County schools.

A cherished part of being in local historical societies is that I can participate in giving awards to those who stand out.

I had the good fortune to attend a local eighth-grade graduation, sit in the front row and watch the event unfold.

I found it delightful to see the vigor and happiness of these emerging young adults. Broad smiles prevailed, and the graduates had an extra bounce in their step as they displayed the buoyant energy that they possessed.

Several of the class leaders provided insight into their interests and experiences, ranging from reflection on fun things in their past schooling, a serious pause during the pandemic sheltering, and an apprehensive and also eager view of the future.

Important to me, and to all of us, are these girls and boys, who will become the workers and leaders of our world in a few short years.

We can let them go their own way and hope. We can disregard them and move on. No one knows what the future will hold, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if we give them what we can, things will work for the better.

For me, I want to let them know that our history is important. We can best build our future with the wisdom gained from experience and past events.

History grows into our heritage. Knowing our heritage gives us a sense of place, a foundation for purpose, a grounding to securely move forward with intention. To help with this, I have helped give a history award to a recognized boy and girl who identifies with some of these concepts.

There’s a paucity of involvement these days in science, technology, engineering and math. STEM scholars are needed, and these people are extremely important to build the structures of our future.

The mining community where many members of my family, both immigrants and locals, found a job and life, was made possible by human ingenuity, invention, engineering and management.

The total local effort strengthened America during the 20th century.

My family - Truran, Hall, Ramage, Garrity, Mitchell, Sparnon, Edwards and Roleson - all worked in the iron and zinc mines. In their honor, an award was given to the boy and girl who epitomized the qualities that can enable them to make our lives better.

As columnist David Brooks recently mentioned: “Great accomplishment is the marriage of ability and interest.”

Interest is attained from being aware, understanding, being able to take part and wanting to do things. This motivation is best when developed, and a nudge or urging along the way can help.

This is true for that person motivated and for those who he or she may themselves motivate. I call this spirit.

An award for spirit, in this case the Oak Tree Spirit Award, was given to the girl and boy who displayed qualities that can help others to be engaged and make for teamwork and for longevity of wanting to be a part of something.

So I sat in the front row and watched the new sprouts have fresh energy and begin to blossom. I saw, on the very same stage where I graduated eighth grade in 1965, the new beginnings.

I was glad to be able to help water the growth and aid in the flowering of our future.

Bill Truran, Sussex County’s historian, may be contacted at