Power of the printed word is indisputable

Words are powerful.

Words have granted us our rights and freedoms as American citizens, they allow us to own property and they enable us to express exactly how we are feeling.

The power of the words cannot be denied. One word can build a person up, one word can tear a person down.

“Jerk,” “idiot,” “genius,” “excellent,” “outstanding.”

Among the most powerful words in the English language: “Love,” “hate,” “truth” and “sorry.” Easy for some to say, hard to impossible for others to vocalize.

On Tuesday, the Yelm Lions Club handed out free English dictionaries to every single third grader in the Yelm school district.

For many of the students, the dictionaries are gifts they clearly appreciate.

Each child, upon receiving his or her dictionary, followed instructions and wrote their names inside the front covers. Then, they would immediately open their books and skim through the thousands of words.

I look at a dictionary as a powerful tool, one that I actually know how to use well. From an early age, I had a fascination with words and would peruse a dictionary, memorizing spellings phonetically. I still remember the spelling of some words that way.

Proper spelling doesn’t seem to have much importance anymore in our society. E-mails that I receive daily make that apparent.

As an employer, when I receive a résumé that contains a misspelling, regardless of the job opening, my immediate impulse is to place it in the round file.

It’s not just because I work for a newspaper, but because I believe proper spelling shows a person’s thoroughness and attention to detail.

The Yelm Lions Club has bought and distributed the dictionaries to third graders for a number of years now. The Lions purchase the dictionaries each year with money earned through fundraisers.

A small part of distributing the dictionaries this week was educating the children about the Lions Club.

For those who don’t know, the Lions Club is comprised totally of volunteers. There are no paid positions, and all money raised in the community by the Lions is returned to the community through the dictionary project, wheelchair ramps for those who need them, free eyeglasses and checkups for the sight-impaired and much more.

I sometimes wonder about the long-range impact of certain deeds, including the dictionary giveaway.

As the third graders offered their “thank yous” Tuesday and flipped through the pages of their dictionaries, I wondered how significant the impact might be for some of them.

How many third graders will use their dictionaries throughout their school years, and how many will take their dictionaries with them to college and beyond? Will the dictionaries lead some of these children a certain direction, such as into journalism?

Once a child learns the power of the printed word, there is no obstacle for success that is too great to overcome.