Revered cannon in Baylor lore, Samuel Palmer Brooks' Immortal Message to the graduating class of 1931 still stirs and uplifts the spirits of Bears nearly a century later.
In 1930, Brooks was stricken with cancer at age 67. After a trip to Europe with his wife, Brooks returned to Baylor and took on an exhausting tour of the state to raise funds that erased Baylor's debt. But he spent much of his time in the hospital, and by May 1931 it was evident that the end was near.
Touched when he learned that members of the Class of 1931 hoped he could sign their diplomas, Brooks made a valiant effort to do so.
From his sickbed, Brooks left one more legacy to Baylor—his Immortal Message to the Class of 1931. The message was both a farewell and a ringing challenge to future generations.
The message's timelessness, wisdom and senserity have imprinted it upon the DNA of the institution. Though Brooks left this world generations ago, his words are indeed immortal.
This, my message to the Senior Class of 1931, I address also to the seniors of all years, those seniors of the past and those seniors yet to be. This I do because I love them all equally even as I love all mankind regardless of station or creed, race or religion.
I stand on the border of mortal life but I face eternal life. I look backward to the years of the past to see all pettiness, all triviality shrink into nothing and disappear. Adverse criticism has no meaning now. Only the worthwhile things, the constructive things, the things that have built for the good of mankind and the glory of God count now. There is beauty, there is joy, and there is laughter in life--as there ought to be. But remember, all of you, not to regard lightly nor to ridicule the sacred things, those worthwhile things. Hold them dear, cherish them, for they alone will sustain you in the end; and remember too that only through work and ofttimes through hardships may they be attained. But the compensation of blessing and sweetness at the last will glorify every hour of work and every heartache from hardship.
Looking back now as I do, I see things with a better perspective than ever before and in truer proportions. More clearly do I recognize that God is love. More clearly do I understand the universal fatherhood of God. More clearly do I know the brotherhood of man.
Truths do not change. The truths of life which I learned as a student at Baylor have not varied, nor will they vary. I know now that life has been a summary of that which was taught me first as a student here. As my teachers have lived through me so I must live through you. You who are graduating today will go out into the world to discover that already you have touched much of what the future holds. You have learned the lessons which must fit you for the difficulties and the joys of the years to come. Then hold these college years close in your hearts and value them at their true worth.
Do not face the future with timidity nor with fear. Face it boldly, courageously, joyously. Have faith in what it holds. Sorrow as well as happiness must come with time. But know that only after sorrow's hand has bowed your head will life become truly real to you, for only then will you acquire the noble spirituality which intensifies the reality of life. My own faith as I approach eternity grows stronger day by day. The faith I have had in life is projected into this vast future toward which I travel now. I know that I go to an all-powerful God wherever he may be. I know that he is a personality who created man in His image. Beyond that I have no knowledge--no fear--only faith.
Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past, because of what she will mean to you in the future, oh, my students, have a care for her. Build upon the foundations here the great school of which I have dreamed, so that she may touch and mold the lives of future generations and help to fit them for life here and hereafter. To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch. My love be unto you and my blessing be upon you.
Samuel Palmer Brooks