Ray Bradbury died this week.

My high school watched our inaugural class of seniors receive their diplomas.

I watched over my nine month old granddaughter (ie: played with, bathed and put her to bed) so her parents could have an evening out.

Unrelated events? Maybe.

This year, my sophomore class read Fahrenheit 451. We had a test on the book the day the author died. I’m sure that isn’t what caused him to breathe his last; he was 91 years old. But, because we had read the book and I had recently seen an interview with Mr. Bradbury, I was more aware of the loss of this poet than I might have been otherwise.

From the interview I got the impression of a man who was brave, honorable, funny and kind. Most celebrity interviews strike me as rather scripted presentations of what the artist wants the world to see. Mr. Bradbury appeared unconcerned with “presenting” anything other than his true self while communicating the things he felt were most important to the world: freedom of speech and love of life.

The graduates of 2012 could do worse than to grasp these three values along with their diplomas. There is something of a guiding light in these principles which, I think, will benefit them in the challenges to come.

My granddaughter is, of course, too young for The Illustrated Man or The Martian Chronicles. But she won’t always be an infant and, because Mr. Bradbury wrote with a purpose, exploring themes far larger than the life and times of his heroes, his work will still be worth reading when she is ready, and far beyond.

Whether we want to or not, we leave a legacy behind us. Whether it is beneficial or detrimental is our only choice. With that in mind – happy writing.

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