by: Eric Muhr
I used to work as the education reporter for a newspaper in Idaho, and part of my job was covering spring graduation ceremonies. I attended a lot of commencement exercises. It wasn’t my favorite part of the job. Most of these events felt like little more than a jumble of inspiration about the journey we’re on, about where we’re headed. It was always the same.
Except one time it wasn’t.
At Boise State’s spring commencement in 2004, the university president asked for a moment of silence. We waited, almost 10,000 of us, packed to the rafters. The band played a slow rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and as it ended, a man yelled. The cry — muffled by bodies and distance — sounded something like a cap gun, a far-off explosion, small but distinct. He shouted a second time and then a third. He was calling a name. Michelle.
Another voice joined his from the opposite end of the pavilion, and then — a sudden swelling — the building was filled with a chorus of calls for Michelle and her classmates.
I’m still haunted by the moment, filled as it was with longing. Thousands — trapped in their seats — reached out with their voices, a compelling cacophony.
Had we been closer, we never would have been so bold.