Whether it’s a middle school moving-up ceremony, a high school graduation or a college commencement, it’s always the same tune: “Pomp and Circumstance.” Written in 1901 by English composer Sir Edward Elgar, the song was originally intended to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and was seen as a testament to the glories of war and the unrivaled dominance of the British Empire. (Or so they thought.) In 1905, Yale University presented Sir Elgar with an honorary doctorate, and the orchestra played “Pomp and Circumstance” as a tribute during the recessional. It went over so well that other Ivy League schools quickly followed suit, and a tradition was born.

More than a century later, the solemn march still resonates, evoking a sense of accomplishment, completion and a job well done. As you’ll see in our annual graduation sections (starting on page 19), there is much to celebrate, and we are honored to acknowledge students and their families across the North Fork for all they have accomplished. Proud parents, grandparents, siblings and friends were on hand for the ceremonies to applaud the many achievements of the graduates, who crossed the stage joyfully, but perhaps with some bittersweet emotions, reflecting on losses and gains and knowing that some may one day leave behind the communities that have made their educational experiences so rich and rewarding. We wish them all the very best in their future endeavors, wherever they may lead.

And there is more to be proud of as the school year ends and another summer begins. The second annual North Fork Pride parade stepped off last weekend, one of many recent celebrations of community in the area, including the North Fork’s first Juneteenth parade.

Seeing members of these still-too-often marginalized communities march confidently and buoyantly through Greenport felt especially poignant and heartening at a time when so many continue to fight an uphill battle for equal rights. According to the Human Rights Campaign, violence against the LGBTQ+ population has become so dire that in November 2023, the advocacy group declared a state of emergency for the first time in its 40-year history.

Thankfully, that’s not what folks experienced at the North Fork Pride and Juneteenth parades. Instead, scores of spectators cheered as multiple churches, schools, nonprofit organizations and civic groups marched through town. Parents hoisted children onto their shoulders to wave flags, salute the marchers and celebrate their communities.

As the graduating classes of 2024 from across the East End get ready to move on to college, start careers and prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow, memories of events like North Fork Pride and the Juneteenth celebration will hopefully play a part in informing their world views, no matter the circumstances.

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