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July 4, 2000

4, 1789

by Stewart Lilker

The Fourth of July is a special day. On July 4, 1776 a group of brave men stepped up to the bar and put their life on the line for something they believed in. If they would have lost their bid for freedom, they would have been brought back to England and hanged. Without their victory, there would be no telling where the world would be today.

As we celebrate their victory this July 4th, we should not forget March 4, 1789. It is a date of equal importance to our nation and indeed the world. In these trying days in Freeport, it is of particular importance.

A lasting victory was won on this date. A victory of intellect. A rare victory indeed. So rare some historians maintain it has been accomplished only three times in history: Old Testament Israel, the Golden Age of Greece, and the era of emergence of the United States of America.

March 4, 1789, is the date the Constitution of the United States of America became the supreme law of the nation. 

FNYN celebrates this Fourth with Adam Gaffney, the Monument to our Fallen Heroes, and the Diversity of America. All made possible because our forefathers had the courage to take a stand. Do You?

Adam Gaffney's Valedictorian Speech, June 25, 2000.
Intellect & The Spirit of Independence.

Four years ago, I walked into the Freeport High School lobby. I never thought I would be here, speaking to you today.

Why are we here today? Are we here just to celebrate that we passed the required courses and that we got enough credits to graduate? I think that it is something else. Everyone is being recognized for something different. We have had own accomplishments, experiences, hardships. Everyone one of us has to go through so much, so many decisions, dilemmas, and disappointments, to get to this point. And so, we are not just being congratulated for our diplomas, but for everything we have undergone to get to this milestone.

It is not just a milestone because it marks the day we become high school graduates. Itís a milestone because it marks our greater understanding of the world. A world, that we all realize by now, does not always make sense.

I guess we got jump started into that conclusion by this past year. We saw that those in power do not always do what is best. We were told everything was being changed in the name of reform, but all we saw was the school deteriorate. New policies were set up that we all knew wouldn't help the school, that wouldn't make students learn more, that wouldn't help teachers educate better, and that wouldn't even improve discipline. The regressive changes might create an image of improvement, but we all knew that education, which of course is the sole purpose of the school system, would not improve.

The moral of the story is this. First, images aren't good enough. You cannot merely have an image of improvement, integrity, or success. Too much in this world is superficial, too many politicians are shallow, too many friendships fake, too many ideals pretended, and too many people are hypocrites, who project images of honesty. There is too much gold plating - shiny on the outside, but with no true depth.

We easily saw through much of what we were told this year, and we have to be able to do that for the rest of our lives and keep it real.

This year should also make us aware that we will see much more that does not make sense in our life. There is poverty, hunger, and ignorance in the world. Confederate flag wavers and holocaust deniers. Reactionaries and bigots. Some of us may face exploitation, racism, corruption, greed, hatred.

All of us have different goals and different destinations, but we all have to expect that there will be attempts to drive us backward. You can't allow any force, whether economic, societal, or personal, to stop you from becoming what you want to be. We have our whole life ahead of us, but only one, so excuses don't count. Don't give anything an excuse to stop you from succeeding.

A journalist and abolitionist from the nineteenth century, William Lloyd Garrison, once exclaimed, "man above all institutions." In his day, he was referring to slavery. Today, I refer to any institution or pressure that could stop us from becoming what we want to be, whether it be bigotry, political or economic incapacity, low expectations, internal doubt, or a lack of dreams. And so I exclaim, we cannot allow any of these forces to end our drive for success.

We have our entire lives ahead of us, but life is not that long. The time has come. We must see through shallowness, in ourselves and our society. We must give the world a true impression of who we are, not what it wants us to be.

We must form real friendships and true dreams. We must disregard pressures that would dissuade us from achieving our goals. We must look all senselessness in the eye, reject it, and move on.

We must succeed, in spite of any constraints, and accomplish our dreams.

I'd like to thank everyone who has made our success possible this far, our parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, [I think they deserve a round of applause]. Our friends, our teachers who make the ideal of education possible, and select administrators who have stayed true to us. Despite some recent changes, I have had a great education and experience at Freeport Schools. I'd like to give special thanks to my mother Aileen and my father Frederick. I love them. My brother, who is always there for me in the nick of time, my guidance counselor and friend Lisa Gordon, Mikey L., keep it locked, and all my great friends and teachers, I wish I could name you all. Thank you for hearing me today, and congratulations to all of us, the graduating class of 2000!

The Monument To Our Fallen Heroes
They Kept Freedom Alive.


This past Memorial Day, the monument to our Fallen Heroes was dedicated. It commemorates those who made the supreme sacrifice so that we may live in freedom




LOVE & COMMITMENT, Preparing For The Future
The Dream Continues.

The diversity of America and the hopes for the future were celebrated last week with the exchanging of marriage vows between Casey Martes and Alcaldio Estevez. The bilingual owners of Bravo Video on Guy Lombardo Avenue look forward to making a life in Freeport. They told FNYN, "Now we are going to have to make time to be involved." Before they do, they were off to Orlando to celebrate their honeymoon.



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