Jim "Skip" Mckay

The Mission Never Stops

Commentary by Hazlet Township Committeeman Skip McKay

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Aug 26

1970 Raritan High School Graduate Looks Back, 50 Years Later

Posted on August 26, 2020 at 10:39 AM by the author

Originally published July 6, 2020

Dear RHS Class of 2020,

I remember the sun on my face. Sitting on a broken folding chair on the football field while slowly sinking in the sandy crab grass. For the final time, I was with my fellow 364 Raritan High School graduates. I do not remember the speakers or the message at the graduates. As an undistinguished scholar in the top 325ish, I was simply ecstatic school was out -- forever. Hindsight being 20/20 and this year being 2020, I felt compelled to write you the obligatory, unsolicited advice from a fellow RHS graduate, 50 years hence. So here it is.

TIME. You cannot buy it, replace it or delay it. Time is of the essence of life. Nothing is more valuable than time. At 17 or 18, time has little value as you trade it for minimum wage and or study things of no interest. A minute after graduation, you control your own destiny and determine how to spend your remaining, but finite time.

Times change but the value of time remains infinite. In 1970, the world survived the Hong Kong flu which killed over 100,000 Americans. The President and Vice President got the H3N2 flu as well as Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell while in space. On a per capita basis, the Hong Kong flu was more virulent and deadly than COVID-19. Today we closed the economy for the pandemic; my generation had the Woodstock music festival. Fifty years later, who is to say which is the better path.

In 1970, 6,173 young Americans would die in Viet Nam. All male RHS graduates faced a military draft. Your class has the choice to serve or not, thanks to all that choose to do so. I enlisted with three RHS friends into the Navy to avoid the conflict. In boot camp, I changed direction and ultimately became a Navy SEAL, arguably a sportier job than being a sailor. They are all gone today and here I am, still vertical.

That decision altered my life trajectory. A kid from RHS who was absolutely below average in all things deemed valuable by the education system excelled. So I am speaking to the graduate today who got mostly C’s and an occasional D. You now control the TIME God has gifted you. When you grasp the finite nature of time and should you choose not to squander it, then the logical alternative is to go “all in, all the time.” Be passionate about how you choose to live. Do not half-ass this great life!

One final piece of advice: Be effective! Achieve your goals! Be compelling! Not sales-y, but compelling! It is simple and obvious. Use data. Information people accept as real and heed as persuasive. 

Our country is diverse, opinionated and the path forward always in debate. People follow and join passionate, compelling leaders. Whether you are determined to start the next Facebook, Save the Whales or find the vaccine to end all pandemics, I hope this letter is of value to one of you. That one who will write a letter to the RHS class of 2070…

Best Wishes,
Skip McKay, Hazlet
RHS 1970


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