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My husband, Blaine, and I take turns speaking at our oldest son Wes’s high school every third Friday in May to award the scholarship we established in his memory just a few years after the accident. I think about the day our daughter, Hope, will take our place. We certainly hope she will…someday. This morning I spoke; I feel compelled to share this since this week seems to be all about Wes. And Andy. Every day my heart is stirred as I remember their lives. (I chose to leave the recipient’s name off to respect his privacy.)

Wes Burton Memorial Scholarship Award

Mt. Tabor High School      May 20, 2016

This past Monday, May 16th, would have been our oldest son Wes’s 31st birthday. Last Saturday, May 14, our youngest son, Andy, was remembered in the 15th annual Andy Burton Memorial Golf Tournament, hosted by Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church.

Fourteen years, two months, and two days ago, Wes attended his last day here, at Mt. Tabor High School as a junior. On that same day, Andy attended his last one as an 8th grader at Jefferson Middle School. One week later, on the last weekday of spring break, Friday, March 29, 2002, their lives ended, along with the younger brother of the driver. The driver was the only survivor. The accident was just down the road, downtown on First St.

There were no drugs or alcohol involved, but a choice was made: a choice to speed over 60 miles/hour down a hill. Another choice ensued, a choice to harbor bitterness or allow forgiveness. Blaine and I made the choice, with lots of hard work and God’s help, to forgive.

Choices. We all have them. Some are simple; others involve much work. Brain work, heart work, soul work. And we don’t always make the best choices. And sometimes, we don’t learn from the choices we’ve made, in spite of making bad ones.

You are now getting ready to leave this place where teachers and administrators have made the choice to care. You may not always think so, but they have…and they do. You are going into a world where you will be confronted with more choices than ever before. And sometimes the world doesn’t care.

But you know what? You should care. Because your life matters. Our sons’ lives matter. STILL. We would not be here today if they didn’t. EVERY LIFE MATTERS.

It matters to us that Wes loved building computers, tinkering on his red XC Jeep Cherokee, being the smartest participant in his chemistry study group. He was proud that he went to work at 15 to save money to purchase a very expensive mountain bike to race.

It matters to us that we can present a graduating senior with a little money to help him or her follow one of our oldest son’s passions: computer science, engineering, or business.

The person who will now receive the Class of 2016 Wes Burton Memorial Scholarship matters to his/her parents. He/she will matter to the professors he/she will meet as he/she begins his/her studies in

computer science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

___________________________________, thank you for making the choice to matter in your life.