Tradition: An inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior.—Dictionary.com
Traditions come and go.
Some, like removing your hat when the National Anthem is being played, are revered and last to this day.
Family traditions are passed along from generation to generation. For example, one family may make oyster stew part of its Christmas Eve meal. Another celebrates the Christmas Day dinner with a goose, or turkey.
Traditions governing dress have gone or are going by the wayside. Remember when women wore hats in church and men dressed in suits? You don’t? OK, my age is showing.
It wasn’t that long ago when it was traditional for high school senior boys to wear a coat and tie for their yearbook photo. That’s pretty much passé and the yearbook — at least the hardcover kind — is headed the same direction.
The class valedictorian gave a graduation address, but some schools discarded that tradition and allowed students to vote in their own graduation speaker.
In the Chicago area, some black students wanted to wear a colorful stole over their graduation gowns to celebrate their African heritage. School administrators said no to the request, insisting on retaining the formality and tradition of the commencement ceremony.
Closer to home, some Chamberlain graduates asked to adorn their mortarboards with symbols or slogans of various types, and they too were rebuffed for the same reason.
Since the 1960s, many American traditions have gone away, in part because of a growing emphasis on individualism versus convention. Doing your own thing has always been around and indeed our country has always praised rugged individualism. The difference is when an individual or a few individuals want to use a traditional ceremony for a group or graduating class to make a statement for themselves and in doing so threaten to trample on a tradition that others value.
There are countless venues and opportunities for an individual to make a statement. Feel free. Do your own thing. However, many continue to value traditional ceremonies marking graduations, weddings, military honors and other commemorations. There’s nothing wrong with that — and a lot right with it.
June 3, 2015