I believe that education is one of the most important gifts that we can give the next generation. But for many people, that gift has been given with a tremendous sacrifice. I carry in my mind and heart so many stories of education and sacrifice that I heard while traveling in China this month.
I remember the student who told me about how his grandparents, both honored scholars and teachers, suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution. His grandfather, a Chinese scholar, was killed by young soldiers--students of his grandmother. When the young student soldiers realized that they had killed the husband of their esteemed and honored teacher, they begged for her forgiveness, weeping and falling prostrate in front of her house in deep sorrow for what they had done. This grieving widow, an esteemed Chinese teacher, had a choice as she faced her own students, the murderers of her husband, at the front door of her house. She could choose to resent them forever and not forgive them for their actions, choosing to live the rest of her days in anger and resentment, or to forgive them and keep open the path of acceptance open for the generations to follow. She forgave them. She survived this difficult time in China's history by forgiving her own students who had murdered her own husband. What courage! Although her own children would not have access to the educational opportunities that she had in her own generation, her grandchildren would. And she would make sure that it happened. And now, her grandson who tells me this story is preparing to come to the USA to study to honor his grandparents and their love for education.
His grandmother, still active in the leading the family, organizes her family members, gathers all of the family financial resources, prepares her family to make additional sacrifices in order to educate the next generation. This family now is preparing to send the third generation, her bright young grandson, who brings such great honor to the family by choosing the scholarly profession of the family, to the United States to study.
Education takes courage! The opportunity to study is not to be taken for granted. May we remember the sacrifices others have made for us so that we could have the opportunity to study and learn.