It was a beautiful sunny Tuesday, the third of September, in central Ohio.

My birthday had been celebrated on the first, and a quiet Labor Day had been observed with my family over the holiday weekend.

I vividly recall adult conversation concerning Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, preached just a few days earlier. The adults were amazed at what had occurred on the Washington Mall through this dynamic leader. They sensed change coming to our nation.

While the previous week would be a landmark moment in Civil Rights history, my focus was squarely upon the initiation of my personal landmark journey. I was beginning kindergarten! My world would be turned upside down.

As my mom and dad prepared to take me to school, my anxiety level soared. There were tears shed, and coaxing pleas made to forsake kindergarten and begin first grade the next year. Mommy provided me solace and encouragement as the clock ticked closer to 12 o’clock noon. My fate had been decided.

My school supplies had been procured, and consisted of a small box of crayons, a couple pencils, a writing tablet and a small floor mat. Each item was carefully packed in a brown grocery bag. I was entrusted with a couple dollars to give the teacher for milk. Mommy would supply me daily with cookies.

The time came to get into the car and take the six-block ride to Cherry Valley Elementary School. As I took my seat in the car behind my dad, the theme song to Mondo Cane, “More,” was playing on the radio. In a few brief minutes, we pulled up to the front of the school. I had to bite my quivering lip and take a deep breath.

We exited the car, and made our way to the outdoor entrance of the classroom. Once inside we were greeted by my teacher, Mrs. Kryder. With a lump in my throat, I turned to say goodbye to my folks. My journey had officially begun.

I can recall many moments from my kindergarten year of school. Of distinction was my daily walk to and from school with a friend of mine. A small seed of independence was planted that initial day of school. Through a myriad of new experiences, I was now required to make judgments and personal, big-boy decisions.

Life had taken a sudden turn, and I had to learn to adapt and grow up. My life would never be the same as I forsook the days of outdoor play, watching TV, and taking afternoon naps. I was now a student in school.

I came to learn that life was replete with first time experiences. Change in one’s comfort zone was normal. The people who would succeed, would succeed in the sudden changes in their life.

The President of the United States at the time of my start to kindergarten in 1963 was John F. Kennedy. He wisely observed, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.”

Let each of us endeavor to embrace change, regardless of the depth of uncertainty or difficulty. Let us focus on personal growth: intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Let us watch for the teachable moments that envelop change. Let us seek the purpose of our existence; God’s plan for our journey, and the time frame He has etched upon our appointed days.

While there is a child out there in our world today commencing his landmark journey, our journey continues. May we successfully complete our calling at the end of our days with a legacy of fulfilling tales of joy, significance and impact. Godspeed as you proceed into the future. Remember, God loves you!

Reach Jon Shonebarger at

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