CDR. Braswell reminds students they ‘won the lottery’ during induction speech
“I’m very happy to be here,” Commander Don Braswell said to open his speech. “I don’t want to say ‘proud’ because as a Christian I’m not supposed to say that. But if it didn’t say that I would be.”
The former Navy Captain was inducted into the Pampa Harvester Hall of Fame at McNeely Field House on Friday morning as part of the weekend Homecoming Activities.
Braswell suggested students get a good friend in high school and keep them and then recognized all of the educators in the room and had them stand up for applause. Braswell then told students they “won the lottery” in being students at Pampa Independent School District.
“Somebody built this gym in the 1950s,” Braswell said. “Somebody built that school in the 1940s. We spent an extra $30 million dollars just about 12 years ago to upgrade this school and build a new junior high. The reason for that is to help you guys get the start that we know helped all of us to get going.”
Braswell then cited a series of prayers and noted them as the essence of what it’s like to come back to Pampa High School.
He reminded students that the District is giving students the opportunity to “build the house” and “buy the Lamborghini” with their education.
“There are good, good roots in Pampa,” Braswell said. “You have everything you need, if you work hard here, to be successful anywhere in the world.
“There are people who would swim an ocean or cross a desert to get their children into the seats which you occupy.”
Braswell said there are dozens of Pampa Harvesters in several different roles across the globe including the military and welding.
Braswell mentioned he has lived across the United States in 23 different zip codes in the last 40 years but always thinks of 79065.
“They always fell short (of 79065),” Braswell said. “I keep coming back here. I lived in different states but I couldn’t wait to get [home]. Texas is pretty neat.”
Braswell reflected on how great the United States is compared to ancient worlds like the Roman and British Empires, which is thanks to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and other founding fathers.
“They got together and wrote this thing called the Constitution,” Braswell said. “And we followed it. There are a lot of constitutions out there that look pretty good on paper. The French had one during that was great because it didn’t have slaves. But the problem with the French Constitution of 1789 is they didn’t follow it.”
Braswell shared a story of two soldiers during the Iraqi War who didn’t back down to a large truck driving into their barracks resulting in their deaths.
“My own story seems pale in comparison,” Braswell said. “I left high school and I had great time. I got to fly. I got to go off and do wonderful things. I got to fly over Iraq. Could you imagine an Iraqi flying over America right now?
“We didn’t get to fly over Iraq because it was fun. We got to fly over Iraq because the Iraqi were killing other Iraqi.”
He related it to 9-11 when the Pentagon had a plane flown into it.
“The plane hit underneath our office,” Braswell said. “It happened and now we have to react. We went out and there was a voice on the fifth floor. I was on the D-Ring. The plan hit the E-Ring first, then the D-Ring and then the C-Ring, then it stopped.”
Braswell wanted to do what he could to help the 35 people on the other side of the smoke.
“When they heard my voice they realized they could go past the smoke and come out the other side,” Braswell said. “They would say ‘it’s dark!’ and I said ‘it’s light out here.’”
Moments after Braswell directed the people his way, the floor beneath them collapsed.
While there were 125 deaths (70 civilian) as a result of the Pentagon attack, more than 30 people near Braswell made it out due, in part, to his efforts.
Braswell left the audience with the reminded thought that students need to do their best to make the world a better place.