An open letter to the graduating class of 2026

You are about 5 or 6 years old, enthusiastic, inquisitive, and high-powered. You love Dr. Seuss books, making spinouts on your bike, peanut-butter sandwiches, Wild Kratts, and the word “awesome.” You especially love to roughhouse with Dad and exercise with Mom. Let’s see … you happily hop off to school every day and are not embarrassed to be seen with Mom or Dad.

But anyways, I digress (you can ask your Mom or Dad what that means). I am writing this letter to you because I read a book that really inspired me and I thought you might like to hear what I have to say. Let me read you a passage from that book:

“Then I caught the eye of the President sitting in the first row and felt gratitude bursting inside me, an overwhelming gratitude unrelated to politics or position, a gratitude alive with Abuelita’s joy and with a sudden memory, an image seen through the eyes of a child: I was running back to the house in Mayagüez with a melting ice cone we called a piragua running sweet and sticky down my face and arms, the sun in my eyes, breaking through clouds and glinting off the rain-soaked pavement and dripping leaves. I was running with joy, an overwhelming joy that arose simply from gratitude for the fact of being alive. Along with the image, memory carried these words from a child’s mind though time: I am blessed. In this life I am truly blessed” (from “My Beloved World,” by Sonia Sotomayor).

Do I still have your attention? The author of this book is the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the United States. To become a Supreme Court justice, you have to be appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. In other words, Sonia Sotomayor is a very important woman. In that passage, you will notice that as Sonia is about to take the oath of office for the Supreme Court, her mind takes her back to when she was a little girl in Puerto Rico. Those were her first thoughts as she glanced at the President of the United States.

To all you little boys and little girls out there, seize the day and live life to the fullest! Dream big! If you want to become an astronaut or a Supreme Court justice, it’s all in your hands. Before you know it, you will be throwing your caps in the air and going off to college. Here is one more little passage I would like to read to you:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms” (from “Walden,” by Henry David Thoreau).

And so, class of 2026, I am now off to the woods with my kids, “to drive life into a corner” and build lasting memories. … Maybe, just maybe, as my kids are about to embark on the greatest journey of their lives, they will think of those simple, yet memorable moments.

But before we build those memories, let me figure out what my kids did to my living room. Gotta go …