Saturday was the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

It was also graduation day for the 207 students in the Pendleton High School class of 2009.

Jessie Henshaw, who spoke at graduation, compared their high school struggle to a military one, and urged her fellow classmates as they embark into their new lives.

"Today we honor the actions of those brave individuals by making our own departure to face life's battles," she said.

She called high school its own boot camp and described teachers as drill sergeants, urging them to attack their future goals.

"Franklin Roosevelt said, 'this generation of Americans have a rendezvous with destiny,'" she quoted. "He knew those fighting for humanity were accomplishing more than just saving the present - they were saving the future. With this foundation of experience and understanding we are able to embark on our life's journey. We are our country's next hope for reconstruction and innovations in these trying times."

Indeed the graduates who filled a third of the Pendleton Convention Center seemed more than ready to take on the future.

Principal Tom Lovell said the class earned $623,000 more in scholarships than the previous class, reaching a total of $2,392,894.

He, too, reflected on the "trying times" these graduates will face in the future.

"I believe that the high school diploma is more important today than it ever has been," Lovell said. "With the uncertainties of the economy, unemployment rates the second highest in the nation, costs for post-secondary training and schooling continuing to rise - earning a high school diploma has taken on even more importance in today's rapidly changing world. Hopefully these graduates behind me see their accomplishment not as a final stop, but as the spring board to further schooling, training, and experience on their road to a life of happiness and success."

But as the second class speaker, Justin Lauer put it, the class of 2009 has faced victory, defeat, adversity and loss.

"I stand before you as a member of the most prepared class Pendleton High has ever produced," he boasted. "The curriculum at PHS has taught us quite a bit about how to write, read and do arithmetic. But we all know the ability to read a book, write a paper and crunch numbers is only a small part of life."

He chronicled the issues the class has faced in its four years of high school, including back-to-back state champion dance teams, going 0-6 to start the football season then winning three games to get to playoffs and watching two people battle cancer, including coach Walt Johnson who died earlier this year.

After facing all they have, and preparing to face the future, Henshaw urged her fellow classmates forward with words from General Dwight Eisenhower on D-Day, long before he became president.

"On our paths to self discovery, we will reach our goals and we will create and effective change for generations to come," she said. "... D-Day was enacted because of our country's unwavering will not to accept the hovering cloud of despair which foreshadowed their futures. Class of 2009, I am going to leave you with the same words General Eisenhower delivered to his troops before they became a part of history: ' You are about to embark upon the great crusade for which you have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill.'"

"Class of 2009," Henshaw finished, "today is our D-Day!"

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