We learned here. Some have worked here. We all grew here. Quite a few have met theirs spouses here (Ring by Spring never fails!). And we all love here.
That here is Van Zandt Hill. Nestled beneath powerful oaks and towering pines, it is on this Hill a dream became an idea, an idea became a plan, and a plan became a reality.
And the reality is that this place is more than a school. It is more than a great place to get an education. It is home. It is a familiar place. It is a place where memories live and remembrances always have a place.
You can leave for 40 years and come back to find that though the buildings have changed, there is something that never does. Maybe a feeling, and ideal.
I think it is because we are all a family. I know when I go home, the smells and warmth and feeling is something I can always expect, I count on it.
It’s the same here too. We are a Family. It unites us. It allows us to cross boundaries of age or personal history. A current sophomore and a 1952 graduate talk about ETBC back in the day. A cheerleader from years past finds herself on the field at the homecoming game teaching a cheer from her time to the current squad. Things that may not be so readily seen elsewhere are common on the Hill. And that is a part of what makes this place special. You’re never just a student. You’re family.
It is amazing to think about the humble beginnings of this school – that the founders simply wanted a place where men and women of integrity and initiative could get a quality Christian education. But my how we have gotten so much more! Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of the legacy of ETBU? To call yourself a Tiger? I say YES!
So today we celebrate a dream that became a reality. The College of Marshall that became East Texas Baptist College that became East Texas Baptist University. They’ve always been dedicated to high-quality Christian education. But also to family. We are Tigers. And no matter where we are or how far away we get from Van Zandt Hill, that will never change.
We are forever Tigers. And for this University, its history, its legacy, its impact, especially on this day, we are forever grateful.
Happy Birthday East Texas Baptist University. May your next 100 be greater than your first. And may the Light on the Hill never die.