Across the state, including at the University of Rhode Island, thousands of young women and men marked a major milestone over the past weekend.

As they crossed stages to receive their diplomas, these students, clad in caps and gowns, strode into the next phase of their lives. They will inherit a rapidly changing world and a state still searching for a 21st-century identity. Their innovations and leadership will shape a future we can presently scarcely imagine.

More will soon follow, as high schools across South County and the rest of Rhode Island celebrate the graduation of their respective senior classes.

We applaud all of the graduates for their achievements. But we remember, too, that each student, and each class, carries on the spirit and character of its hometown or alma mater.

Every individual and collective achievement is the product of decades of hard work, caring and support on the part of families, educators and many others. All of their efforts deserve recognition, as well.

It is fitting that Memorial Day, the occasion on which we as Americans most deeply reflect on what it means to serve and sacrifice, falls during graduation season. As we gather with loved ones in revelry over the coming weekend, we are asked to pause for a moment and remember those who selflessly surrendered their own promise and potential so that others might freely pursue their dreams.

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