Skip to main content

tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  May 30, 2011 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

8:00 pm
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> >> next, president obama heads to arlington cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. then more from president obama as he names the army chief of staff. in observance of those who sacrificed their lives for the nation, here's a look.
8:01 pm
8:02 pm
>> hut. color. halt. freeze. halt. freeze. ♪
8:03 pm
[the "star spangled banner" plays]
8:04 pm
>> halt. >> present. halt.
8:05 pm
8:06 pm
["taps" plays] >> halt.
8:07 pm
8:08 pm
8:09 pm
8:10 pm
8:11 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, remain standing for the president's invocation and the national anthem. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. the secretary of the defense.
8:12 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. ♪ >> please join me for the invocation. [inaudible] >> from our earliest beginnings you have guided us through times of adversity and prosperity, through periods of war and feast, by your own hand
8:13 pm
and on our behalf, you have shown yourself strong to save us. among all the nations of the earth, america has been richly blessed in extraordinary ways. we turn to you today to remember with honor and respect our fellow citizens who have fought in america's wars as members of her armed forces. many of these gallant americans died before our enemy's guns, many of them died alone, many died in the fruit of their youth. all of them served for the sake of future generations of americans whom they themselves would never know. many of these patriots are long dead, but time will neither dim the glory of their deeds or the sting of their loss. oh, great physician, we remember them and honor their sacrifices. enable us to fully embrace the legacy of valor, duty and sacrifice of these fine heroes,
8:14 pm
american heroes who caused our flag to fly high and with honor. empower us to take up the line of liberty for which they have given all so that on our watch it may remain undimmed. this is our fervent hope and therefore it is for this we pray, amen. >> please join the united states marine band in the singing of our national anthem. >> ♪ o say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hail at the twilight's last gleaming whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight oer the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming
8:15 pm
and the rockets red glare the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there o say does that star spangled banner yet wave oer the land of the free and the home of the brave ♪ [applause] >> please be seated. please be seated. ladies and gentlemen --
8:16 pm
>> mr. president, secretary gates, members of congress, distinguished guests, veterans, fellow americans, and most especially families of our fallen warriors, welcome. if it is true that a nation defined itself by those it honors, then on this day and in this place, let it be known that america still defines itself as the most noble of nations. for we have been represented and we have been defended and we have been made free not solely by the mere strength of our ideals but by the courage of young men and women who have been willing to die to preserve those ideals. soldiers in battle will tell you, and they will mean it, that they fight primarily for each other, that they are
8:17 pm
driven forward under fire by an earnest desire not to let each other down. but they would not have been placed in that horror and they would not have been so ready to sacrifice themselves were it not for a deeper love of country, a fondness for home, and a heart beating with ardor for the lives and the livelihoods of their loved ones. and that is, i believe, how they would most like to be remembered, those who have fallen and are missing, not for the lives they lost, but for the ones they lived, the ones they protected, the ones they saved. their legacy is not in their debt, it is ultimately not in their sacrifice, it is in the sunrises and sunsets, the birthdays and holidays, the first dates and the first
8:18 pm
borns, all the cherished moments they have made possible for the attempts they left behind. and for the thousands of their brothers and sisters in arms still out there on point and on patrol. their legacy is in the hopes we harbor, the dreams we yet share, the laughter and the tears, the fear, the joy and the love, all the things that make us human, all the things that make us alive. these are their gifts to us, life is their legacy. let us live it to the top. let us mourn, yes, their passing, but let us also promise ourselves to do that which we can every day, starting today, to prove worthy of what our fallen have given us at so great a cost.
8:19 pm
let us look after their children, let us bind up the wound of their comrades, let us remember that the best of what america represents to the world lies here in these and other hallowed places. but that the best of who we are as americans lies in our own hearts and in our own actions, and what we do to honor those who have rendered this last full measure of devotion. today we most solemnly remember, tomorrow we must stridently and generously live. those brave who sleep here ask for nothing more, and we who survive them can demand of ourselves nothing less. god bless our fallen, the missing, and their families, and god bless america. [applause]
8:20 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, listen now as staff sergeant sarah deloma of the united states marine band performs "america the beautiful." ♪ >> ♪ o beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain for purple mountains force magesties above the fruited plains america america god shed his grace on thee and crown thy good
8:21 pm
with brotherhood from sea to shining sea ♪ ♪ o beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond thy eyes for the cities gleam undimmed by human tears america america god shed his grace on thee
8:22 pm
and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, secretary of defense gates. >> as president, veterans, active service members, families, welcome. for many americans, memorial day is a welcomed respite from work, an extra day to spend at the beach or finish air ands --
8:23 pm
errands, but never should forget it's a time to reflect, remember, and honor the brave men and women who fought and died for us. each year we set aside a single day to reflect on the service of our armed forces and generations past and present, a day where we must also honor the sacrifices of military family members who in recent years have borne the brunt of repeated deployments and then answering the door with the worst possible news. i urge all americans just as each and every day the troops now serving faithfully pursue their mission to protect us so each and every day they deserve our recognition, our respect, and our conscious gratitude. every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and coast guard wearing the uniform today and listed or re-enlisted knowing they would serve in time of war, as it has
8:24 pm
been put, the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike. and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it. as i come to the end of my time in this post, i know this will be my final opportunity to stand and speak in this hallowed place and pay tribute to the fallen. it is up to us to be worthy of their sacrifice and the decisions we make, the priorities we set, the support we provide to troops, veterans and their families. for the rest of my life, i will keep these brave patriots and their loved ones in my heart and in their prayers. as i know, as does their commander in chief, who has so steadfastly supported those bearing the brunt of the fight, i have been honored to work with president obama for the past 2 1/2 years and to see the deep seriousness and thoughtfulness with which he weighs the security of the nation and the safety of the
8:25 pm
men and women who serve. throughout he has never shrunk from the tough decisions, the heavy burdens, and the true responsibilities of command. it is my privilege and my honor to introduce the president of the united states. [applause] >> thank you. thank you so much. please. be seated. thank you, secretary gates. and thank you for your extraordinary service to our nation. i think that bob gates will go down as one of our finest secretaries of defense in our history, and it's been an honor to serve with him. i also want to say --
8:26 pm
[applause] i also want to say a word about admiral mullen, on a day when we are announcing his successor as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and as he looks forward to a well deserved retirement later this year, admiral mullen, on behalf of all americans, we want to say thank you for your four decades of service to this great country. [applause] >> we want to thank deborah mullen as well for her extraordinary service, the commanding general of our
8:27 pm
military district of washington, mrs. nancy horst, mr. patrick hallinan, the superintendent of arlington national cemetery as well as his lovely wife doreen and to chaplain steve berry, thank you for your extraordinary service. [applause] >> it is a great privilege to return here to our national sanctuary, this most hallowed ground, to commemorate memorial day with all of you. with americans who have come to pay their respects, with members of our military and their families, with veterans whose service we will never forget and always honor, and with gold star families whose loved ones rest all around us in internal peace.
8:28 pm
to those of you who mourn the loss of a loved one today, my heart goes out to you. i love my daughters more than anything in the world, and i cannot imagine losing them. i can't imagine losing a sister or brother or a parent at war. the grief so many of you carry in your hearts is a grief i cannot fully know. and this day is about you. and the fallen heroes that you loved, and it's a day that has meaning for all americans, including me. it's one of my highest honors, it is my most solemn responsibility as president to serve as commander in chief of one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever known. [applause]
8:29 pm
>> and it's a responsibility to carry the special weight on this day, that carries a special weight each time i meet with our gold star families and i see the pride in their eyes, but also the tears of pain that will never fully go away. each time i sit down at my desk and sign a condolence letter to the family of the fallen, sometimes the family will write me back and tell me about their daughter or son that they've lost or a friend will write me a letter about what their battle buddy meant to them. i received one such letter from an army veteran named paul tarbucks after i visited arlington a couple years ago. paul saw a photograph of me walking through section 60
8:30 pm
where the heroes who fell in iraq and afghanistan lay. by headstone marking the final resting place of staff sergeant joe phaneuf. joe, he told me, was a friend of his, one of the best man he'd ever known, the kind of guy who could have the entire barracks in laughter, who was always there to lend a hand, to being a volunteer coach to helping build a playground. it was a moving letter. and paul closed it with a few words about the hallowed cemetery where we are gathered here today. he wrote, the venerable warriors that slumber there knew full well the risks associated with military service and felt pride in defending our democracy. the true lesson of arlington, he continued, is that each headstone is that of a patriot,
8:31 pm
each headstone shares a story. thank you for letting me share with you the story about my friend joe. staff sergeant joe phaneuf was a patriot like all the venerable warriors who lay here and across this country and around the globe. each of them adds honor to what it means to be a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and coast guardsman. each has a link in an unbroken chain that stretches back to the earliest days of our republic. and on this day we memorialize them all. we memorialize our first patriots, blacksmiths and farmers, slaves and freed men who never knew the independence they won with their lives. we memorialize the armies of men and women disguised as men,
8:32 pm
black and white who fell in apple orchards and corn fields in a war that saved our union. we memorialize those who gave their lives on the battlefields of our times, from normandy to manila, enchan to kasan, baghdad to hellmand and in jungles and city streets around the world, what bonds this chain together across the generations, this chain of honor and sacrifice, is not only a common cause, our country's cause, but also a spirit captured in a book of isaiah. a familiar verse mailed to me by the gold star parents of second lieutenant mike mcgayen.
8:33 pm
when i heard the voice of the lord saying, whom shall i send? and who will go for us? and i said, here i am. send me. that's what we memorialize today. that spirit that says send me, no matter the mission, send me no matter the risk. send me no matter how great the sacrifice i'm called to make. the patriots we memorialize today sacrificed not only all they had but all they would ever know. they gave of themselves until they had nothing more to give. it's natural when we lose someone we care about to ask why it had to be them, why my son, why my sister, why my
8:34 pm
friend, why not me? these are questions that cannot be answered by us. but on this day we remember that it is on our behalf that they gave our lives, they gave their lives. we remember that it is their courage, their unselfishness, their devotion to duty that sustained this country through all its trials and will sustain us through all the trials to come. we remember that the blessings we enjoy as americans came at a dear cost, that our very presence here today as free people in a free society bears testimony to their enduring legacy. our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes we never can fully repay. but we can honor their sacrifice, and we must. we must honor it in our own
8:35 pm
lives by holding their memories close to our hearts and heeding the example they set. and we must honor it as a nation by keeping our sacred trust with all who wear america's uniform and the families who love them. by never giving up the search for those who have gone missing under our country's flag or held as prisoners of war, by serving our patriots as well as they serve us from the moment they entered the military to the moment they leave it, to the moment they are laid to rest. that is how we can honor the sacrifice of those we've lost. that is our obligation to america's guardians, guardians like travis manian, the son of a marine, travis aspired to follow in his father's footsteps and was accepted by
8:36 pm
the u.s.s. naval academy. his roommate at the academy was brendan looney, a star athlete and born leader from a military family just like travis. and the two quickly became best friends like brothers, brendan said. after graduation, they deployed. travis to iraq, and brendan to korea. on april 29, 2007, while fighting to rescue his fellow marines from danger, travis was killed by a sniper. brendan did what he had to do. he kept going. he poured himself into his seal training and dedicated it to the friend that he missed. he married the woman he loved and his tour of korea behind him he deployed to afghanistan. on september 21 of last year, brendan gave his own life along with eight others in a
8:37 pm
helicopter crash. heartbroken, yet filled with pride, the manians and the looneys knew only one way to honor their son's friendship. they moved travis from his cemetery in pennsylvania and buried them side by side here at arlington. warriors for freedom reads the epitaph written by travis' father. brothers forever. the friendship between first lieutenant travis manian and lieutenant brendan looney reflects the meaning of memorial day. brotherhood, sacrifice, love of country. and it is my fervent prayer we
8:38 pm
may honor the memory of the fallen by living out those ideals every day of our lives, in the military and beyond. may god bless the souls of the venerable warriors we lost and the country for which they died. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the playing of "taps" and the benediction. >> present arms! ["taps" plays]
8:39 pm
>> have a seat for the benediction.
8:40 pm
>> remember the wisdom you've learned and be courageous. cling to that which is good always, resist evil to the utter most. strengthen the hardened, defend the helpless, honor god, fear no man. above all, love and serve the lord. amen. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing until the president has departed and the colors are retired. ♪ ♪
8:41 pm
8:42 pm
8:43 pm
8:44 pm
8:45 pm
>> earlier today president obama named army chief of staff general martin dempsey as the new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and if confirmed will replace admiral mike mullen whose final term ends this fall. from the white house rose garden, this is 10 minutes. >> all right. good morning. in a few moments i'll be joining members of our armed forces, their families, and veterans for the memorial day observance at arlington. there and across our nation, we'll pause to honor all those who have given their last full measure of devotion in defense of our country. theirs was the ultimate sacrifice, but it is one that every man and woman who wears america's uniform is prepared to make. so that we can live free. the men and women of our armed forces are the best our nation has to offer, and they deserve
8:46 pm
nothing but the absolute best in return. that includes leaders who will guide them and support their families with wisdom and strength and compassion. and that's what i expect as commander in chief as we work to keep our nation secure and our military the finest in the world. i find those qualities in leon panetta who i announced last month as my choice to succeed our outstanding secretary of defense bob gates who i thank for joining us today. and i found these qualities in leaders who will complete our team at the pentagon and whom i'm proud to announce today. general martin dempsey as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral james winafeld as the vice chairman and to succeed general dempsey as chief of staff of the army, general ray ordiarno. the chairman of the joint
8:47 pm
chiefs of staff is the principle advisor to me and my national security team including the secretary of defense. since taking office, i've been very grateful for the leadership of the current chairman, admiral mike mullen and the vice chairman, general jim haas cartwright. these two men have served our nation with distinction for decades and i look forward to paying tribute to their lives of service in the months ahead. today i'll simply say that like president bush before me, i've deeply valued my professional steadyness and his personal integrity. on his watch, our military forces have excelled across the whole spectrum of missions from combat in iraq and afghanistan to relief efforts after the haiti earthquake. he helped revitalize nato, reset our relations with russia, and steer our relationship with pakistan and china. and i believe that history will also record mike mullen as the chairman who said what he believed was right and declared that no one in uniform should ever have to sacrifice their
8:48 pm
integrity to serve their country. i've also benefited enormously from the advice and counsel of haas cartwright, he is that rare combination of technical expert from cyber to missionily -- miss ell defense and technical thinker, whether it was preparing our military for 20th century missions and will grateful for his friendship and partnership and as he finishes his service in the marine corps, he'll do to knowing our military is stronger and nation more secure because of his remarkable career. i know michelle joins me in saluting deborah mullen and sandy cartwright for their decades of extraordinary service, especially as champions of our inspiring military families. with the advice and consent of the senate, it is our hope and expectation that leon panetta will soon take the reins as secretary of defense.
8:49 pm
general cartwright's term ends this summer, admiral mullen's term ends this fall. i'm announcing my choice for their successors today because it's essential this transition be seamless and that we stay focused on the urgent national security challenges before us. and i want to thank the secretary of defense bill lynn for the continuity i'll provide in this transition. with nearly 40 years in uniform, martin dempsey is one of our nation's most respected and combat-tested generals. in iraq he led our soldiers against a brutal insurgency, having trained iraqi forces, he knows the nation's must ultimately take responsibility for their own security, having served as acting commander of central command, he understands that in iraq and afghanistan, security gains and political progress must go hand in hand. and just as he challenged the army to embrace new doctrine and tactics, i expect him to push all our forces to continue adapting and innovating to be
8:50 pm
ready for the missions of today and tomorrow. i was proud to nominate marty as army chief of staff, and i realized he only assumed that position last month. marty, your tenure as chief may go down as one of the shortest in army history. but it's your lifetime of accomplishment that bring us here today, and i thank you for your willingness to take on this new assignment along with your wife deenie and three children, all of whom have served in the army. today i want every one of our men and women in uniform to hear the words that you spoke to your soldiers on your first day as chief, because it's our shared message to all who serve, especially our troops in harm's way. we will provide whatever it takes to achieve our objectives in the current fight. as vice chairman, admiral sandy winefeld will draw on 30 years of distinguished service and under his command the fighters
8:51 pm
from the u.s.s. enterprise pounded taliban positions in the weeks after 9/11 and his carrier strike group played a critical role in air operations over iraq. having served as a nato commander, sandy is well known to our allies. having served on the joint staff, he is known and trusted here at the white house. most recently as head of northern command, sandy has been responsible for the defense of our homeland and support to states and communities in times of crisis such as the recent tornados and the floods along the mississippi. he supported our mexican partners in their fight against the cartels and our japanese allies in the response to their nuclear emergency. so sandy knows that we have to be prepared for the full range of challenges. sandy, i thank you and your wife mary and your two sons for your continued service. i've selected general dempsey and admiral winafeld because of their record and potential as individuals and selected them because they'll make an
8:52 pm
extraordinary team, despite their competing loyalties to army and navy. between them they bring deep experience in virtually every domain, land, air, space, sea, cyber, and both of them have the respect and the trust of our troops on the front lines, our friends in congress, and allies and partners abroad. and both of them have my full confidence. they both have something else, for the first time the chairman and vice chairman will have the experience of leading combat operations in the years since 9/11. two moments in particular speak to this leadership. on the morning of september 11, 2001, the enterprise was returning home from the persian gulf when word came of the attacks. rather than wait for orders, sandy took the initiative, reversed course and put his ship and aircraft within range of afghanistan by the next morning. setting the stage for the strikes that followed. a few years later, as marty's first armored division was
8:53 pm
rotating out of iraq, he suddenly got new orders. he turned his division around, shifted to new parts of iraq and defeated an insurgent uprising, a remarkable maneuver that has entered the annals of army history. i know folks across the army are proud to see one of their own selected as chairman, i also know this means losing their new chief in a time of war and that's why for the next army chief of staff, i'm nominating one of the army's most accomplished soldiers and one of the tallest, general ray ordiarno. in three pivotal deployments to iraq, he commanded the troops that captured saddam hussein, partnered with general petraeus to help bring down the violence, and then transferred responsibility to iraqi forces allowing us to remove some 100,000 american troops and end our combat mission. after years on the front lines, ray understands what the army must do to prevail in today's
8:54 pm
wars, to prepare for the future, and to preserve the readiness of the soldiers and families who are the strength of america's families. and we're fortunate that ray's dedication to our soldiers is shared by his wife linda and their family, including their son tony, a combat veteran and advocate for his fellow wounded warriors. i urge our friends in the senate to confirm these outstanding individuals as swiftly as possible. they're innovative, flexible, focused on the future and deeply devoted to our troops and their families. general dempsey, admiral winafeld, we have much to do, from bringing our troops home from iraq, to beginning to reduce our forces in afghanistan this summer, and transitioning to afghan lead. from defeating al qaeda, to protecting the libyan people. all this even as we make difficult budget decisions while keeping our military the finest fighting force in the world.
8:55 pm
above all, as commander in chief, i'll be looking to you and the rest of the joint chiefs for what i value most in my advisors, your honest, unvarnished advice, and the full range of options, especially when it comes to our most solemn obligation, protecting the lives of our brave men and women in uniform. we have no greater responsibility as we are reminded today when we honor all those who sacrificed so that we can enjoy the blessings of freedom. so again, to marty, sandy, and ray as well as your families, thank you for your patriotic service and your readiness to lead once more. thank you very much, everybody. >> to hear more about the nomination of army general martin dempsey to become the new joint chiefs of staff, we
8:56 pm
spoke earlier today with a political reporter. >> we want to take a few moments to let you know about an announcement that will be made this morning which affects the defense department. this is the president expecting to announce martin dempsey will be nominated to serve as the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and that was as admiral mike mullen, the current chairman set to retire on october 1, stories about the general dempsey appeared in the papers yesterday, currently the army chief of staff joining us to give us a little more perspective, frank olivari of congressional quarterly, their defense and foreign policy reporter. can you tell us why this choice by the president of general dempsey, what he brings to the table? >> how are you doing, good morning. >> good morning. >> he's an interesting character. he has been through the fires of iraq and he's also been most recently the commanding general
8:57 pm
of the u.s. army training and doctrine command. and where a lot of the lessons learned from iraq that he was beginning to apply throughout the force of those two years from 2008-2011 he was bringing to the military, he was only just recently confirmed to be army chief of staff, and so this was a little bit of a surprise move in that it takes a long time to pin down the guy you want and then put him through the whole confirmation process, but from all reports that you've seen, he's the kind of guy that they need right now. there are some major decisions that they will face, some structure concerns, they're dealing with significant personnel costs, all these things are things he's actually quite well suited to address. >> when is the last time we had an army chief of staff as the joint chiefs? >> i believe general sheldon in the early -- it's been almost a
8:58 pm
decade since the army had an officer heading up the joint chiefs, so yeah, it's been quite a while. >> as far as his day-to-day duties, tell us what the general will face. you talked about some big decisions coming up as far as forestructure, can you give some insight in generally what he'll have to do? >> he'll have to face questions along with leon panetta who also will be dominated -- nominated to become defense secretary, they're facing significant rising costs in health care in the military, as we all are, through across our society, but in the military it's become a significant growth problem and cost. the military is facing significant problems with modernization of their forces. there are fewer dollars available, you might have noticed the economy has not done so well and there's fewer dollars available for defense and yet they still need to modernize the force. the army itself has not had a new weapon system come online
8:59 pm
since the 1980's. and this is a problem across the military. you have the air force with aging aircraft, you have the navy with the need to increase the size of its ships or the number of its ships, i should say. there's a significant problem. plus the questions of reshaping the military. there's a global posture review coming in and clearly the general will have to play a significant role. then there are the questions of the drawdowns in afghanistan, when and how deeply will that drawdown begin? >> what kind of relations does the general have with the president? >> i think the general has a really strong relationship with the president. he's seen as a strong stat gist. he came, you know, with the support of current secretary of defense gates and chief mullen and i think that as a result, you know, he's a very thoughtful guy and probably exactly want right now. >> what type of baggage does he
9:00 pm
bring? >> well, it's difficult. he's stepping into a role where a lot of people felt, to be perfectly honest, a lot of people felt like he was the perfect guy to be the army chief of staff. the army, of all of the services faces probably some of the most significant challenges. and there were a lot of people that wish he would have stayed in that role. obviously, we talked -- general cartwright, marine corps general which is very close to the president and many thought he would step into that job. there were difficulties, personnel-type issues with the general that led him to not getting that position and so they kind of had to scramble to place this new officer. >> anything else we should know about the general that maybe hasn't been put 0 to public consumption already? >> it's interesting about him, he was the commander forces at a time when iraq had turned very bad. he was tpwhgged in the 2003, 2004, 2005 time frame when
9:01 pm
things were quite difficult and he -- he was forced at first, here he is bringing armor to bear and suddenly he's being told to hold ground and protect people over a couple hundred square miles of space. it was a completely different kind of mission, one that really challenged him. he would tell you that it was a particularly difficult time. you needed to be more nimble in addressing these threats. it's tough to pick at a time you're reshaping the military. >> is confirmation expected from this voice? >> he had an easy time going through his army chief of staff. i don't expect there would be a problem with this appointment. >> frank olivery of
9:02 pm
congressional quarterly, joining us to talk about the president's choice. oliver dempsey for chief of staff. thank you very much. happy memorial day. >> same to you. >> tuesday on "washington journal" associate editor of the atlantic, chris good, looks at possible republican candidates including mitt romney, who's expected to kick off his campaign today. bill gertz of the "washington times" talks about his funding operations. the house recently passed a $649 billion defense plan which the president threatened to vito. after that, major paul kremer on the mission and goal of the rotc program and its presence in all of the branches of the military plus your e-mails, phone calls and tweets. "washington journal" live tuesday at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. earlier this month members of congress gathered in the u.s. capital to dead cade a new statue of former president
9:03 pm
zpwerled ford. he served in the u.s. house from 1949 until taking the office of vice president in 1973. we'll now hear remarks from the former president's son and daughter at this hour-long event. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our honored guest, the honorability henry kissinger, governor of michigan, members of the united states senate and speaker of the united states house of representatives. >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives. the honorable john boehner.
9:04 pm
>> distinguished guests and fellow citizens, today we formally accept the statue of gerald r. ford for placement in the national statutory hall collection in the rotunda here in the united states capitol. this presentation ceremony is held in accordance with house concurring resolution 27, which was approved by the gong on may 16 of this year. the resolution also expresses congress's gratitude to the people of michigan for providing this commemoration of one of its most eminent citizens. we're joined by the governor of michigan and members of the congressal delegation. we're also joined by member of president ford's cabinet and senior staff as well. we're also pleased to have with us members of president ford's family, including three of the four children, susan, mike and
9:05 pm
steve. finally, those who could not wb us here today, i know we're all thinking of the former first lady, betty ford, without whom none of this would have been possible. >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of the colors by the united states armed forces color guard, the singing of our national anthem and the retiring of the colors.
9:06 pm
9:07 pm
9:08 pm
9:09 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing when the vice general gives the invocation. >> let us pray. eternal lord god, the giver of every good and perfect gift, we're grateful for this opportunity to remember our 38th president, gerald ford, by dedicating a statue in his honor. lord, win -- when this land
9:10 pm
desperately needed strong, moral leadership, you gave it president gerald ford's astuteness, honor, commitment and courage. when we needed a model of unsquirting integrity, you provided us with someone who was committed to stand for right. accept our gratitude for president ford's courage to decide based upon principles, for his preg matek leader -- pragmatic leadership during cynical times and for his efforts to bind the nation's wounds after watergate and vietnam. lord, thank you also for
9:11 pm
permitting him to remind us that family and faith still matter and that right living is a language which is clear to everyone. may this statue continue to remind us of president ford's dignity, decency, diligence and decisiveness, thereby challenging us to use our lives for your glory. we pray, in your sovereign name, amen. >> please be seated. >> ladies and gentlemen, the democratic leader of the united states house of representatives,
9:12 pm
the honorable nancy pelosi. >> good morning, i'm pleased to joig our speaker, speaker boehner and leader reid and leader mcconnell in welcoming our distinguished guests here today, especially to welcome the members of the ford family. in 2003 when president ford was observing his 90th birthday, he came to the floor of the house of representatives. he was like a rock star. everyone surrounded him. it was as he moved through the chamber, he was engulfed by members. some served with him from michigan, like chairman dingell chairman conyers. others who never served with him but wanted to greet him and welcome him to the congress. when i went up to pay my respects, i said mr. president, i have your job. i'm the minority leader. he said, i'm your father.
9:13 pm
he was my friend. isn't that just like gerald ford? the president himself, ford said himself, the length of one day matters less to the love of one's family and friends. and his long life of great accomplishments, president ford was the most, most proud of his family. today we pay special tribute to his family, michael, jack, susan and steven, three of whom are with us. we also send other love and respect to first lady betty ford. our nation owes her a great debt of gratitude for her role as first lady but well beyond that, affecting the lives of millions of americans. please extend our respects to your mom whfment we unveil a statue, governor snyder, it's always a special occasion for us in the capital. but when it happens to be one who has served in the congress,
9:14 pm
that is a rarity and a president who has served in the congress as gets pretty personal as well. because as president we come together here to honor the character, the courage, the civility of a former proud member of the house of representatives and, indeed again, former minority leader, president ford. president ford's leadership in the house is marked by fair and reliable leadership. he was effective and respected by both parties. respect on both sides of the aisle, always bipartisan in his approach. or as he himself said, i have had a lot of adversaries in my political life but no enemies that i can remember. in 2001, president ford was awarded the john f. kennedy profiles in courage award. as senator ted kennedy said that day, at time of national turmoil, america was fortunate
9:15 pm
that it was gerald ford who took the helm of storm-tossed ship shift of state. his courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to dedicate the process of healing and put the tragedy of watergate behind us. as you see the love, respect and admiration for president ford was truly bipartisan. president ford as you know spent a lifetime of service to his country in uniform, in the congress, and as our 38th president. today, we welcome -- proudly welcomed him back to the capitol. truly the gentleman from michigan. a state which he loved. may this statue long stand in the united states capital as a testament of his leadership, values and integrity. may it also stand as sign of respect for all visitors who come to this capitol out of respect that the american people
9:16 pm
have for president gerald ford. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the governor of the state of michigan, the honorable rick snyder. >> speaker boehner, congressional leaders, it's truly an honor to be here. today is a proud day to be an american. it's an especially proud day to be a michigander. gerald ford represented the best from our state. i think he would support me in the statement which i will use, he represented, he was the personification from the leaders from the state of michigan and not just the university of michigan.
9:17 pm
he served our state in so many ways. he was a role model from his college days at the university of michigan, rooting for championships and i'm sure he would be rooting for the next one to come soon. but he also served our state and congress for nearly 25 years from the grand rapids area and was a role model for many. i had the opportunity to meet him briefly and actually work on one of his campaigns and he was a role model to me personally. but he answered a higher calling, in addition to his service for our state. he served our nation during one of the most difficult times possible. and he made a real difference. president ford was personification of courage, of integrity, of civility, a role model for us to all follow. so it's with great pride today that on behalf of the citizens of the state of michigan that we can present this statue to the u.s. capitol and the united states government. thank you.
9:18 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the republican leader of the united states senate, the honorable mitch mcconnell. speaker boehner, leader reid, members of the ford family, it's a pleasure to join in this tribute for the good man that we honor today. this statue that we dedicate will stand as a permanent reminder of the long and distinguished career of a proud son of michigan.
9:19 pm
continue will solidify history's judgment that general ford held together in one of our most difficult hours. many here today may be too young to remember how thoroughly watergate shook america's confidence in its institutions and in its leaders. but over the years, that bitterness has yielded to a sense of pride that america in her resilience bounced back. to a sense of gratitude to a man that steadied the ship of the state when scandal game. when things went terribly wrong, gerald ford stepped into a role he been preparing for his entire life without even knowing it. and today few would disagree that he was just the man we needed for the job. like many of us generations, gerald ford was guided above all by love of country and
9:20 pm
commitment to service. that's why he signed up for the navy after pearl harbor. that's why he ran for congress. that's why he excelled here. and that's why he would shine in a row he never sought. unlike many of those who proceeded him or followed him in the halls of tower, gerald ford nerve dreamed of what his destiny would be. he lived by a simple rule instead, the harder you work, the luckier you are. and whether it was the boy scouts or football or academics, he worked as he put it, like hell. it was the same philosophy that with later lead him to say that the presidency and vice presidentsy were not prizes to be won but a duty to be done. and it's because he fulfilled this duty so well that the people of michigan and the
9:21 pm
nation honor him today. he restored the nation's confidence in itself. that is no small fact. and today our nation acknowledges once again it's abiding gratitude for the simple decency, the steady leadership and the generous servants of gerald rudolph ford. >> ladies and gentlemen, the majority leader of the united states senate, honorable harry reid. >> anyone who is lucky enough for a long list as gerald ford. but many are more meaningful than the offices he held.
9:22 pm
he was very compassionate, forthright and reliable. you was true to his word. honest, very unpretentious. took the oval office as vice president of the united states and house chamber just down the hall from where we are today. when we then addressed the nation for the first time in that role in that room, the man started with a humble warning. i'm a ford, he said, not a lincoln. so he also had a sense of humor. he was fair. president ford wisely asked congress to remember a responsibility to communicate, cooperate and compromise. indeed he compromised to the oil that makes the government run. his metaphor is just as true today as it was then.
9:23 pm
as a young lieutenant governor during the oil crisis of the early '70's, i came to washington one day to represent my governor, migal callahan and my state and bill simon. then i went to the white house to meet the president of the united states gerald ford. i was so excited. here i was just a little over 30 years old and meeting with the vice president in the white house. i felt a connection to ford. like general callahan was to me years earlier, ford had been a boxing coach. like me a small town law practice. during our meeting, official picture was taken. i was very proud of that picture. i knew it was going to look great. it was the first the photo i had ever taken with a big shot. i flew home and -- and a week or so that picture arrived.
9:24 pm
oh, i was so proud of that picture. big one, me and the vice president of the white house. i laid it on my dresser. came home that night. not realizing my kid was using it like one of those thing you get in a restaurant. so my picture of vice president ford was now colored with crayons. every color you could imagine. i did everything i could to save the picture. i still have that picture, crowns and all. ford's career was the photo of my children's hands changed. he was a congressman quarter of a century. part leader, house of representatives for almost a decade, member of the warren commission and, of course, vice president, president of our country. but there was a distinct sense that more than any of these titles, as leader pelosi said, gerald ford was most proud he
9:25 pm
was simply a citizen of the united states. he was more than just an american. he was an all-american, eagle scout. captain of his football team and member of the national championship university of michigan football team. in fact, he was such a proud wolverine that when he entered official events and we left tunnel for the last time, he did so no to "hail to chief "music but michigan hail fight song that explains, among other things, hail to the victors. president ford wasn't impressed with labels or livelihood or longevity. the value he valued most had nothing to do with what a person accomplished for himself and what he did do with how he treated other. six weeks before he passed away, he became his nation's longest serving president. in his last public statement he told the nation, quote, the length of one day matters less
9:26 pm
than the love of one family's and friends. president ford knew what he was talking about. he enjoyed tremendous love from those he knew and admired him and he was easy to love. believe people are fundamentally good and he saw the best in his neighbors and in his country. brad grill, sculptor from grand ratchids, michigan, did an impressive job catching president ford's likeness in a statue we will unveil in just a few minutes. he did such an expert job i'm confident i will be able to recognize general ford even without the crayon scribbles on his face. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the honorable john duaner. john boehner. >> i thank awful you for being here today.
9:27 pm
as you can imagine, there's a lot of hard work that goes into an event of this magnitude. so i want to thank all of the votes here in the capitol, back in michigan from the ford foundation, all of you for your significant efforts in making this day happen. as my colleagues have noted, president ford always put best interest of the republic first. but you have to wonder whatever this principle would hold if he were to learn this statue was going to be unveiled by the speaker of the house from ohio. [laughter] yes, gerry ford was a michigan man if there ever was one. not a phone combroin in his body, all heart, all class. and in some ways, of course, to hold an office to which
9:28 pm
president ford aspired. it's an honor to place him in this hallowed rotunda among the greats, just a stone's throw from where he labored for so many years. you could almost hear him saying right now, just leave it to me, mr. speaker. but throughout his life, every time the role was called, he answered the call. as a young man during world war ii, he served heroically as an officer on the "uss monterey" seating naval combat in the pacific. he answered the call again in 1873 as he left his beloved house of representatives where he had served for 25 years to become vice president of our country. and later he returned as president. or when he returned as president, he lamented. he was not a real homecoming for
9:29 pm
now that he belonged to the executive branch. in reality, gerald ford belonged to all of us. it was not just what we wanted or needed him to be one of us, he was one of us. he looked down on no one and trusted in the good sense of the american people. he did not set out to fix america but only to return it to bing the great beacon of freedom and liberty as it always was. and he also had the good sense to marry up. as first lady betty ford set an example of courage, and kept passion that continues to endure. and we can still remember swatching her hold the bible as the new president was sworn into office. the story goes that at that moment, dozens of democrats in the house were gathered around the television in their
9:30 pm
courtrooms just off the floor of the house. when president ford asked the people to confirm him with our prayers, the room fell to silence. and a voice from the back of that cloakroom said, we will, gerry. god bless you. so we began again. americans one and all. now the gentleman from michigan has come home. may this statue be an open book of bronze that tells of the most uncommon of the common men. one who kept the faith, one -- whether his country american needed it most. may god continue to shed his grace on gerald ford. the woman he adored and the country that he loved.
9:31 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the united states army chorus.
9:32 pm
9:33 pm
9:34 pm
[applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the daughter of president and mrs. gerald ford, mrs. susan ford bales. >> mr. speaker, leaders reid, mcconnell and pelosi, members of the senate and house of
9:35 pm
representatives, governor snyder, dr. kissinger, japanese ambassador fujisaki, ladies and gentlemen. on behalf of mother, i extend congratulations to sculptor brett grill. brett, your statue is wonderful. mother and i are so grateful to you and special gratitude also goes to governor snyder and the people of michigan. and to the u.s. house of representatives and the senate for making this remarkable tribute to dad a true reality. the rotunda has been a part of the ford family for decades. as a young girl, i accompanied my dad to the capital on weekends and happily played hide and seek in this very room and in statutory hall. for hours and in 2006, i
9:36 pm
returned but under very different circumstances for dad's state funeral. when our last of our family gathered in the rotunda, it was a time to remember and a time to say good-bye. and those were very difficult days. but we drew strength and comfort from many kindnesses of both the house and the senate members and from both sides of the aisle. but in particular we were strengthened by the unprecedented tribute the house and senate paid to dad. i remember my feeling of awe and pride when we arrived at the capitol the very first evening. instead of using the traditional center steps to the rotunda of the house of representatives, we had dad's casket carried up the house steps. it was then placed in repose outside the lid house chamber in
9:37 pm
honor of dad being the president who served the longest in the house of representatives. several days later the senate placed dad's casket in repose outside the senate chamber and then the casket was carried out the senate steps to begin dad's final journey home to michigan. in the twilight of his life, dad was invited back to speak at the capitol. and on that special evening, he reflected fondly on a sign here, quote, while i may have lived at the other end of pennsylvania avenue for 2 1/2 years, the capitol has always been my home. always, and i'm very, very proud of that. today the house and senate and the people of michigan
9:38 pm
symbolically and permanently welcome dad back to the capitol, back to the home in his heart he never left. and as i thought about this statue, i have wondered what the school children visiting the rotunda in 100 years will learn about dad. perhaps he will speak of speaker o'neill's moving words, perhaps he will recall vice president cheney's description of dad's first day as president. quote, the 62nd years of gerald ford's life was a bitter season in the loif of our country. it was a time of false words and ill will and there was great malice and great hearset and a taste for more. and it all began to pass away in
9:39 pm
a day in august when gerald ford laid his hands on a bible. or perhaps the school children will consider tom daschle's gratitude, quote, president ford did more than wake frup a national nightmare. he made it possible for us to dream again. or maybe they'll reflect on david broder's conclusion -- in an odd and inexplicable way, the truth has begun to dawn on the american people. the gerald ford was the kind of president americans always wanted and didn't know that they had. certainly dad was proud and always humbled by such tributes but dad would be prouder of school children 100 years from now will look upon this statue and consider whether dad kept the promise he made immediately after taking the presidential oath.
9:40 pm
quote, i'm acutely aware you have not elected me as your president by your ballot so i ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers. i have not sought this enormous responsibility but i will not shirk it. i solemnly promise to uphold the constitution, to do what is right as god gives me to see the right and to do the very best i can for america. god helping me, i will not let you down. today the people of michigan and dad's beloved house of representatives and senate has spoken to future generations and that solemn promise dad made in 1974. dad, your message fills this rotunda. you did not let america down.
9:41 pm
you kept your promise. you healed our nation, and you allowed us to dream again as it is shown in this wonderful statue. the american people are and will be forever grateful. mr. speaker, senate and house members, governor snyder, on behalf of mother, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honner that you have bestowed on my dad. may god bless you and watch over the united states capitol and all who served within her walls. may god bless america. thank you very much. [applause]
9:42 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the 56th secretary-general of the united states, dr. henry kissinger. distinguished leaders of the congress, ladies and gentlemen. when general ford was the 38th president, the vietnam war had divided the country, watergate had demoralalized the executive branch, the cold war was still raging, but providence smiled on
9:43 pm
america when gerald ford took his oath of office. i'm not one of those rhetorical geniuses, ford said to me early in his presidency. i have to be myself. and that happened to be just what america needed. in no other country our personal relations so effortless and generous as in small-town america with gerald ford. he had never aspired to the presidency. he was free of the fixation on focus groups. his highest ambition had been to become speaker of the house of
9:44 pm
representatives, a certain independence and achieved by respect from his colleagues, by the indomitable way gerald ford exuded serenity in a tumultuous time and restored confidence to a battered society. kind and unassuming, gerald ford overcame a vast array of international challenges. i will mention just a few. in his presidency, the first political agreement was negotiated between israel and egypt, which led to a peace agreement two years later.
9:45 pm
the european security conference, whose establishment of internationally recognized human standards hastonned the collapse of the soviet satellite orbit. the initiative to bring majority rule to southern africa, the creation of the international energy agency which still fosters cooperation among all consuming nations. the annual economic summit for cooperation among the industrial democracies which remains a core element of the international dialogue. few will dispute that the cold war could not have been won, had not gerald ford emerged, at a tragic period in our history to restore our faith in ourselves.
9:46 pm
in office, only 29 months, gerald ford left with no regrets, no second guessing of his successors, no objective pursuit of his place in history, all of us in this room who served under president ford considered it as a high point in our lives. for 35 years we have been meeting once a year, together with the ford family, with an amazingly complete attempt to recall what he did and do recapture the generosity, intelligence, decency and goodwill, which he used his add
9:47 pm
streags. let me thank the leadership of the congress for enabling gerald ford to return to these halls which he loved so much in this match. his statue will remind us and future generations that society is recapturing not by their divisions but by their reconciliations. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated for the unveiling of the statue.
9:48 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the statue of president gerald r. ford. [applause]
9:49 pm
>> ladies and gentlemen, the son of president and mrs. gerald ford in the gerald r. ford presidential foundation, mr. steven m. ford. >> wow. i've got a lump in my throat to see dad and we're so proud, and i echo susan's sentiments and thanking the leadership, speaker boehner, governor snyder. congressman verne allens, who's dad assistant for years and so much help to get this statue put in here today. i look out in the audience, and there are a lot of people in
9:50 pm
this audience that had a lot to do with this back in 1974 to help heal this nation. i see secretary bill pullman. i saw frank, paul o'neill. vice president cheney, rumsfeld. so many people went into dad's administration, carla hill's somewhere out there, to heal this nation back in 1974. susan is exactly right. our family is at very this moment in this rotunda, in this capitol because of dad. i remember -- well, ronetly, what, 4 1/2 years ago we stood here for dad's funeral. and susan and my brother jack, my brother mike down here, i can't tell you the honor that each one of us felt as we came in here and watched thousands of people come through to pay their
9:51 pm
respects to dad. i know mike and susan and jack and myself, we all stood here to shake hands with those people, those great citizens of this country who came to pay respects for dad because he would have done it. that's what dad would have done. so that was a great moment. susan's exactly right. back probably 1965, 1966, she and i were about 9 and 10 years old and dad on saturdays used to bring us in to his congressional office because he would answer correspondence mailed to us in grand rapids, western michigan. dad was -- he would tell susan nicely, listen, before you can go play, you need to type a letter to your mother and tell her how much you love her and how great a mother she was. and so we would get that done and dad would let us come out and play hide and seek and statuary hall in the rotunda. you're probably not doing that anymore. as we know, it's a much more
9:52 pm
dangerous, dangerous world today. but shortly, it wasn't many years after 1965 that -- about eight years later, fall of 1973, when my dad was nominated by president nixon to be the next vice president, now, you have to understand the story because my dad had been in congress 13 terms, 25 years, he was going to retire because he never got to become speaker of the house minute mother had him convinced he would move back it grand rapids and have a nice quiet life and he would start practicing law against in grand rapids and president nixon nominates him to be vice president and mother's plans were pushed aside. she was not happy. rib my dad putting his arm around my mother and saying, betty, don't worry, vice presidents don't do anything.
9:53 pm
we all know our hesstry and that didn't quite work out. but ten months later, as we know, secretary kissinger described it very well, our family stood on the south lawn of the white house as president nixon left in a helicopter, great shadow over the white house. we walked in to the east room of the white house. we saw mom hold the bible. dad his put hand on the bible to take the oath of office. think about it, this was a crisis in america. you had the vietnam war, this country was divided, soldiers still coming home in body bags. cold war with the russians, inflation that was double digit, unemployment high. kix months before dad became president, the stock market lost 45% of its value.
9:54 pm
12 months perfect dad became president, the price of oil was $3 to $4 a barrel. and the next 12 months it went up 300% to 400%. this was the presidency that he inherited and here you had a man who was going to put his hand on the bible, take the oath of office, that had not gone through a general election and being elected by the american people. it was a crisis in america. we walked in there, dad took the oath of office. he took over the reins of this country at a very tough time. but he never forgot the lesson that he came to washington to serve, to be a servant, to serve the people. and you can look back in the fabric of his life and there's a thread that runs through it that is so apparent. this thread of character and
9:55 pm
integrity. and dad, i think leader pelosi talked about it, he worked well with both sides of the aisle, both democrats and republicans, and he knew the importance of it finding the right decisions. he wanted to hear, paul o'neill talking about it, dad would challenge him to make sure he had both sides of an argument in a meeting because he wanted the right answer, not be bound by ideology. mike, i know my brother mike, susan, you will remember, how many nights we sat around the dinner table and dad used to say, a government big enough to give you everything is a government big enough to take everything away. he believed those words. so as we stand here today, and i think the inscription that former democratic speaker of the
9:56 pm
house tip o'neill has on my dad's statue, which said, basically god is very good to america, to this country. he's right. god had a hand in my father's life as a young man, when he grew up in grand rapids, michigan, and he made sure he placed the right people around him, the right mother, the right stepfather, the right football coach, the right teacher, the right church pastor, the right boy scout leader, to plant the seeds in him of character and integrity that he would need years later to heal his nation. selfishless as a son cloys by saying, what i miss most is how
9:57 pm
dad led our family. how he showed us how to be a great father, how he showed us how to be a great husband. thank you, dad, god bless you. thank you very much. [applause] >> well, ladies and gentlemen, please stand as the regional chaplain of the naval district washington, captain gary khlore, gives the benediction. >> let us pray. gracious god, who has given us this good land for our heritage,
9:58 pm
we humbly ask that you work with us, in us, and through all of our endeavors that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your holy will. bless our land with honorable industry, sound warning and pure manners, save us from violence, discord and confusion, for pride and arrogance and from every evil way. defend our liberties and fashion us into one united people, multitudes brought to us from many kin drid and tongues that while we build diversity, we may also strengthen our common bonds in unity of effort. in view with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and through the discipline of law
9:59 pm
and the opportunities of liberty, may we show forth praise among the nations. in the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness. in the day of trouble, strengthen our resolve and resilience that we shall always, bound in hope move forward to goodness of character and strength of spirit. we ask your rich blessings upon the ford family that you may grant them your peace and solace as they honor us with their presence and sharing of a person we all hold dear in our hearts and minds. go now in love. as those called to do the work of god who has given us energy and life that in the end we may
10:00 pm
all reap the blessings of our lives. may god's peace and favor and mercy bless you always. amen. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain at your seats for the depart churt of the official party. >> tuesday, remarks by stanley hoyer -- stenny hoyer on u.s. manufacturing, starting at 11:00
10:01 pm
a.m. eastern. also expected, spending bills on military construction veterans affairs. all the house live on c-span on tuesday. all this weekend, we have shown you commencement addresses from around the country. starting next, several more. first, and denzel washington speak to students at the university of pennsylvania. then, a speech by actor and diabetes research advocate john ratzenberger.
10:02 pm
then at justice sondra sotomayor. -- sonia sotomayor. and so washington addressed 5000 graduates in pennsylvania. he is the national spokesman for the boys and girls club of america. he received an honorary degree. this is 25 minutes. >> i kind of got a little messed up here. let me get in the right order. if it starts flying around the stage, run around and grabbed it for me and bring it back up here for me. i will keep going if i can. president, provost, the board chair, fellow honorees, and
10:03 pm
today's graduates -- [applause] i am honored and grateful for the invitation today. it has always been great to be on the campus. i have been here before a lot of times for basketball games. my son played on the basketball team. that is right. he played on the basketball team. the coach did not give him enough playing time. we will talk about that later. i am really pleased with the progress that coach allen has made. i am. i really am. i wish him the best success in the future. i always get a warm welcome when i come to pennsylvania, when i come to philadelphia. except on the few occasions where i wear my yankee cap.
10:04 pm
what is wrong with that? up and suddenly switch wear a filly cap. that is like taking your life in your hands around here when you wear a yankee cap. i am telling you. i met a couple of guys who were like, "we love you, but with that have on we do not care who you are." you will be happy to see i am not wearing a yankee cap today. i am wearing my yankee sox, my yankee t-shirt, white yankee underwear, my yankee to warmers 0-- toe warmers. i will be honest with you. i am a little nervous. i am not used to speaking at a graduation of this magnitude. it is out of my comfort zone. dressed me up in army fatigues or throw me on top of the moving train, or ask me to play
10:05 pm
malcolm x or alonso, i can do that. but the commencement speech is a very serious affair. it is a very different ballgame. there are literally thousands of people here. for those who say that i am a movie star and millions of people watched the speech all the time, that is technically true. but i am not actually in the theater watching them watching me. [laughter] i think that makes sense. i mean i am not there when they fidget or pull out there i phones to touch their boyfriend or scratched their behinds. but from up here, i can see every single one of you. that makes me uncomfortable. so please do not pull out your
10:06 pm
iphone. do not texture boyfriend until after i am done, please. if you have to scratch your behind, i understand. go ahead. i was thinking about this speech, but i should say. i figured the best way to keep your attention would be to talk about to see hollywood stuff. i thought i could talk about me and russell crowe getting into arguments on the set of "american gangster." but you are high-minded intellectuals. you are not interested in that. or maybe not. i thought about a private moment i had backstage with angelina joe lee in the dressing room - jolie in the dressing room after the oscars. but this is an ivy league school. half naked in a dressing room -- who wants to hear about that? no one.
10:07 pm
that stuff would never go over well here. maybe at drexel, but not over here. [applause] so i was back to square one, feeling the pressure. if it is going to be this difficult, why did i even accept today's invitation in the first place? my son goes here. that is a good reason. i always like to check to see how my money is being spent. i am sure there are parents who can relate to what i am talking about. there were some other good reasons for me to show up. i got an academy award, but i
10:08 pm
never had something called a magic meatball after waiting in line half an hour at the food truck. yes, i talked face-to-face with president obama, but not with a guy who sings that song is over at smoke's on tuesday night. yes, i have played a detective who battles demons. but i have never been to a school where the score calculation has gone bananas. they are breaking into dorm rooms. they are walking around campus. i think i saw some carrying books on their way to class. so i had to be here. i had to come. even though i was afraid i might make a fool of myself. in fact, if you really want to know the truth, i had to come
10:09 pm
exactly because i might make a fool of myself. what am i talking about? here it is. i found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. nothing. nelson mandela said there is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. i am sure in your experiences in school, applying to college, and picking your major, i am sure people have told you to make sure you have something to fall back on. but i never understood that. having something to fall back on. if i am going to fall, i don't want to fall back on anything. except my faith. a lot to fall forward.
10:10 pm
at least this way, i will see what i envoy to hit. fall forward. this is what i mean. reggie jackson struck out 2600 times in his career, the most in the history of baseball. you do not hear about the strikeouts. people remember the home runs. thomas edison conducted 1000 failed experiments. did you know that? i did not know that. the 1,001st was the light bulb. fall forward. every failed experiment is one step closer to success. you have got to take risks. you have probably heard that before, but i want to talk to you about why that is so important. i have three reasons. first, you will fail at some point in your life. i accept it. you will lose.
10:11 pm
you will embarrass yourself. you will suck at something. there is no doubt about it. that is probably not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony. embrace it. it is inevitable. i should know. in the acting business, you fail all the time. early in my career, i auditioned for a part in a broadway musical. the perfect role for me, i thought, except for the fact i cannot sing. i am in the wings. i am about to go on stage. the guy in front of me is singing like pavarotti. he is just going on and on and i am shrinking, getting smaller and smaller. they said, "thank you very much. you will be hearing from us." i came out with my sheet music. it was "just my imagination" by
10:12 pm
the temptations. i hand it to the accompanist. she looked at me and the director. so i start. i am going to sing. [singing very quietly] they are not saying anything, so i think i am better and i start getting into it. thank you. thank you very much, mr. washington. so i assumed i did not get the job. but the next part of the audition, they called me back. the next part of the audition was the acting part of the audition. i thought maybe i can't sing, but i know i can act. they carry with this guy. i did not know about musical
10:13 pm
theater. musical theater is big, reaching everybody in the back of the stage. i am more from the naturalistic kind of action where you actually talk to the person next to you. i don't know what my line was. up."ine was "hand me the cop his line was, "i will hand you the couple, my dear. i will be there to hand it to you." should i give you the cup back? >> give it back to me. you know it is mine and should be given back to me." i did not get the job. but here is the thing. i did not quit. i did not fall back. i walked out of there to prepare for the next audition, and the
10:14 pm
next audition, and the next audition. i prayed and i prayed. but i continued to fail and fail and fail. but it did not matter. you know what? there is an old saying. you hang around in a barbershop long enough, sooner or later you are going to get a hair cut. so you will catch a break, and i did catch a break. last year, i did a play on broadway. won the tony award. and i did not have to sing, by the way. but here is the kicker. it was at the cort theater. it was at the same theater that i felt that first audition in a, 30 years prior. [applause] the point is, and i will pick up
10:15 pm
the pace -- the point is every graduate here today has the training and the talent to succeed. but do you have the guts to fail? here is my second point about failure. if you do not fail, you are not even trying. i will say it again. if you don't fail, you are not even trying. my wife told me this great expression. to get something you never had, you have to do something you never did. les brown made an analogy. imagine that around your deathbed are the ghosts representing your unfulfilled potential, the ghosts of the town once you did not use. they are standing around your bed angry, disappointed, and upset. they say, "we came to you because you could have brought us to life.
10:16 pm
now we have to go to the group together. -- to the grave together." how many ghosts will be around your bed? you have invested a lot in your education. the world needs your talent. i just got back from africa to days ago. if i am rambling, it is because i and jet lag. it is a beautiful country, but there were places with terrible poverty that need help. that is just the tip of the iceberg. the middle east need your help. japan needs your help. alabama need your help. philadelphia need your help. -- needs your help. the world needs a lot, and we need it from you. i know i am getting a little
10:17 pm
greater. we need it from you, the young people -- i am getting a little greyer. you have to give everything you have got, whether it is your time, your talent, your careers, or your treasures. remember this. you will never see a u-haul behind a hearse i will -- behind a hearse. i will say it again. you will never see a u-haul behind eight hers -- behind a hearse. you can't take it with you. the egyptians tried it, and all they got was robbed. the question is what are you going to do with what you have. i am not talking about how much you have. some of you are business majors. some of you have money. some of you have kindness.
10:18 pm
some of you have love. some of you have the gift of long-suffering. whatever your gift is, what are you going to do with what you have? here is my last point about failure. sometimes, it is the best way to figure out where you are going. your life will never be a straight path. i began at fordham university as a premed student. i took a course called cardiac -- i still can't say it. cardiac morphogenesis. i could not read it. i could not say it. i sure could not pass it. so then i decided to go into pre law, then journalism. with no academic focus, my grades took off in their own direction. [laughter] i was a 1.8 gpa.
10:19 pm
the university very politely suggested it might be better to get some time off. i was 20 years old. i was at my lowest point. march 27, 1975, i was helping my mother in the beauty shop she owned up at mount vernon. there was this older woman who was considered one of the elders of the town. i did not know her personally. i was looking at a mirror. i could see her behind me, staring at me. she kept looking at me. she kept giving me these strange looks. she finally took the drier off her head and said something i will never forget. first of all, she said, "give me a piece of paper. young boy, i have a prophecy, a spiritual prophecy. you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people." i am 20 years old. i am flunked out of school.
10:20 pm
i am thinking maybe she has something in her crystal ball about me getting back into school next couple -- next fall. but maybe she was on to something. later that summer, working as a camp counselor, we put on a talent show. after the show, another camp counselor said, "have you thought of acting? you are good at that." when i got back to school, i change my major for the last time. in the years that followed, i have traveled the world and i have spoken to millions of people through my movies. millions who up until this day could not see me, who up until this day i could not see while i was talking to them. they could only see the movie. they could not see the real me. but i see you today. and i am encouraged by what i see.
10:21 pm
and i and strengthened by what i see. and i love what i see. [applause] one more page and i will shut up. let me conclude with one final point. the president still my material. still limit -- stole my material. years ago, i did this movie called philadelphia. that came out in 1993. most of you were probably still in diapers. some of the professors, too. [laughter] that cracked me up. but it was a good movie. and it on -- rent it on netflix.
10:22 pm
i get 23 cents every time you do. that is true. tell your friends. it is about a man played by tom hanks who is fired from his law firm because he has aids. no one is willing to represent him until the homophobic ambulance chaser lawyer played by yours truly takes on the case. if you watch the movie, you will see everything i am talking about today. you will see what i mean about taking risks and being willing to fail. taking risks is not just about going for a job. it is also about knowing what you know and don't know. it is about being open to people and to ideas. in the course of the film, the character i played begins to take small steps. small risks. he is very, very, very slowly beginning to overcome his fears.
10:23 pm
i feel ultimately his heart becomes flooded with love. and i can't think of a better message as we send you off today. so not only take risks, but be open to life. i accept new views and be open to new opinions. be willing to speak at a commencement at one of the best universities in the country even though you are scared. while it may be frightening, it will also be rewarding. because the chances you take, the people you meet, the people you love, the fate that you have -- that is what is going to define you. members of the class of 2011, that is your mission when you leave the friendly confines of philly. never be discouraged. never hold back. give everything you've got. and when you fall throughout life, and maybe even tonight
10:24 pm
after a few too many glasses of champagne, remember this. fall forward. congratulations. i love you. god bless you. i love you. i respected. -- respect you. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> this week, the house is set to begin work on 2012 spending bills, including one for the homeland security and veterans affairs department. tuesday, a speech from allen west on defense spending. he will speak to the heritage foundation. you can see his comments live at 10:30 eastern. a house panel looks at autism in
10:25 pm
other countries. how children can get medical care, specifically in developing countries. the hearing is by a house foreign affairs subcommittee, starting at 2:00 a.m. eastern, also on c-span to. we continue with a commencement address from actor and diabetes research advocate john ratzenberger. we begin with the honorable degree presentation. >> populating a comic films and ground-breaking animated movies. perhaps best remembered for your portrayal of the salt of the earth mailman, you have been an ardent champion of american ingenuity, using your background in acting, producing, and writing. you introduced us to the amazing work of entrepreneurs, inventors, and manufacturers throughout this nation whose
10:26 pm
products have contributed to its greatness. true to your entrepreneurial nature, you invented a biodegradable and save paper alternative to plastic packaging products. and your desire to inspire the next generation of craftsman and found a unique inspiration in this mission. it is also reflected in your campaign to help rebuild america's skilled work force through expanded opportunities for career, technical, and vocational training. also close to your heart is the cause of juvenile diabetes. you helped create the largest online resource. you helped raise more than $100 million to help fund research for a cure. [applause]
10:27 pm
for these reasons, the corporation of providence college and the unseaworthy to receive the honor reductor of fine arts. -- recognizes you as unworthy to receive the honorary doctorate of fine arts. [applause] >> the impact of 21st century technology has made an enormous difference to how we perceive animated films. cutting edge computer technology advances the sound industry.
10:28 pm
animated films likewise have been enhanced, encouraging the viewer or listener to enjoy it a unique experience. as a leading voice in the most successful animated movies in film history, john ratzenberger has been at the center of these advances. from his improv days in europe cliff 70's to working as clay been in the sitcom "cheers" to his work in picks are' -- john haseature films, demonstrated versatility. his work is grounded in state of the art technology. simultaneously, he has encouraged a hands-on creativity in children. as such, the nuts and bolts foundation he established provides opportunities for
10:29 pm
children to be inquisitive, open to inspiration, and to prepare for jobs that require a mastering of basic manual skills. we are proud of john's many contributions. we are pleased he is here with us today but as the proud parent of a class of 2000 graduate, nina, and as our principal speaker. please join me in welcoming him. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. the best definition of the road to success that i have heard was winston churchill. he said success is a result of going from failure to failure with enthusiasm. he is also the man who said "never stand when you can sit. never sit when you can lie down
10:30 pm
." so go figure. when i was a young man growing up in the bucolic village of bridgeport, connecticut -- it is great to have you here. have you searched them for weapons? [laughter] much of my winter indoor time was spent reading books. books than were made of paper and did not require batteries or a wall socket. the words were right there, like they were waiting for you. my first favorite author was james and more cooper, director of "the deer slayer" and "last of the mohicans." the protagonist was natty bow -- natty bumpo. because of his survival skills, the locals gave him the names of "dear slayer -- deerslayer"
10:31 pm
and "hawkeye." but the town folks knew him as natty. i used him as a template. what fascinated me about that character was he would set off into the forest without any idea of a destination. he seemed more excited and interested in the journey through the wilderness than the actual getting there, wherever that was. no cellphone. no debit card. just gunpowder shot and hardtack enough to last until he could find something to eat. but he did have a moral compass. he knew the difference between right and wrong. he listened closely to the natives that had been in this great wilderness for centuries and learn from them the ways of survival. they in turn respected him for his willingness to listen and understand the meaning of a cracked twig or a forest gone
10:32 pm
suddenly silent. every day was an education, and he was an eager and willing student. after my four years at university with a degree in english, i set off with some tools and troubled new england, trading the skills i had picked up working summers as a deckhand on an oscar boat and as a carpenter -- on an oyster boat and as a carpenter building houses. i thought i was a carpenter until i walked up to a building site and asked the boss if he needed another house for ever. he looked down at this 18-year- old kid and said, "so you think you are a carpenter, do you?" he pointed to a huge pile of joists, 12 feet long. "move those beams over there." he pointed to a spot 200 feet away, across a snow and ice
10:33 pm
covered field. i needed the work, so i moved them. it took me five days. but i moved each and every single one of them. monday morning, the boss scratched his chin and said, "i think they were better over there." so i moved them back. like i said, i needed a job. five days later, i was dealing taller and stronger than i had ever been before. the boss handed me a framingham there -- hammer and said, "show me." up until that moment, i thought i knew how to hold a hammer. he showed me where to place my thumb and how to swing the hammer efficiently and drive in a nail with only three blows. i have been grateful ever since. the first job he sent me on doing was nailing plywood floors to the first to buy twelves i had become so friendly become-- 2 x 12s i had become so friendly
10:34 pm
with. the crew did not take kindly to the new kid on the job. a few weeks later, on a fairly win the day, i was given the job to stand on a roof joist for stories up and lift sheets of plywood up the scaffolding from the ground below. i do not know how many of you have balance yourself standing spread leg on narrow beams, holding a succession of what became a wooden sale whenever the wind blew. it is scary. he learned quickly to angle the edge into the wind, or you become very poplins with a tool belt. that date -- or you become mary poppins with a tool belt. when i got to the last sheet, i looked at where i had been handing them to the guy below.
10:35 pm
he was not there. i could not drop the plywood, fearing it would cause havoc on the street below. i was in a pickle for sure. then i heard the sounds of rapid hammering and laughter. carpenters nail the edges of my boots to the edges of the rafters i was standing on. just to be clear, i was wearing the boots at the time. then we double and triple -- then a double and triple not in my places as i tried to -- knotted my laces as i tried to hold on to the plywood. they left for lunch, laughing hysterically. it took me a while to maneuver the plywood until i could tack it flat. then i cut off my laces and lowered myself to the floor below. they have also taken the letter i used to climb up. it took a long time to pry my boots loose and find someone to replace the laces enough to wear
10:36 pm
them again. the crew returned with a lunch they had bought for me and sat around joking as i ate. i realized then that i had been accepted as one of them. i knew instinctively that it had been necessary for them to test my medal, to put me through ugly tasks to see what i was made of. on that day, the lunch they gave me and the laughter that came with it was as special and grim as annie award -- grand as any award i could hope to place on my mental. i went through the same region explored by cooper. instead of pulp -- instead of stalking deer, i was helping to build a mime studio in exchange for lessons. i became the only carpenter who
10:37 pm
could bring an imaginary bill and walk an imaginary dog. learn as much as you can about as much as you can. there is no such thing as useless knowledge. asked sherlock holmes, or cliff for that matter. word came around of jobs being offered at a music festival 60 miles away. a friend and i went down and i was given the keys to a large tractor after telling the hiring and that i know how to drive on. i lied, but like i said before, i needed the job. mime is good, but cash is better. after almost flipping the thing backwards a couple of times, i became a taxi -- a tractor driver at the woodstock festival. i helped build the stage and spent time pulling cars off the rain-soaked fields.
10:38 pm
i would like at this time to say i am sorry for helping to ruin the world and apologize on behalf of the woodstock generation. i could have stopped it. i could have pulled the wires and sent people the wrong direction. i did not. the woodstock generation and their philosophy is what shaped our culture today. movies, television, music, and literature glorified the drug- fueled madness. but i was there. this is what really happened. once the rain started, everything fell apart. no food. not enough medical care or equipment. no sanitation. no clean water. half a million helpless flower children very close to panic. all of a sudden, we looked at the sky and heard the thump of a national guard helicopter cresting the horizon, loaded with much-needed supplies and equipment.
10:39 pm
one right after the other. if not for that, the woodstock festival would have possibly turned into the next donner party. the woodstock festival and its influence on our culture was saved by the national guard. a few years ago, senator clinton suggested there be a statue erected on the farm to commemorate the summer of love and its impact on a generation. my suggestion at the time was that the statue should be of a national guardsman feeding a crying hippie. [laughter] i was there. that is what happened. and i was one of them. i had a beard and long hair. it was a sickness. [laughter] even then, when i heard the lyrics of "lucy in the sky with diamonds" -- picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine
10:40 pm
trees and marmalade skies. you know the song. my question was, "who built the boat?" someone who was not stoned and drunk. he had to get up in the morning, measure, cut, and bend and shape wood into a boat before the beatles or anyone else could imagine magic dragons and marshmallow seas. someone had to get up in the morning, put their hands to something useful, and the responsible for their work, themselves, and their families. it was that philosophy that built and shipped this civilization. it was that philosophy that brought us to the dance. dance with the one who brought you. i have always been a fan of the judeo-christian ethic that you do not have to be jewish or christian to follow. the respectful to yourself and the family you create, and let your works be for you.
10:41 pm
when i was touring this great country during my show, i had the opportunity to visit factories that make everything from bagpipes to bathtubs. at one of the larger companies, i got to talking with the ceo about the young workforce entering the marketplace. he told me a story i have heard variations of across the country. he hired a man fresh out of college to work at the office for a decent salary. after three days, the ceo told me, they had to fire the kid. apparently, he would not listen to anyone else's advice or direction. he always thought his ideas were the best and he refused to work in a team atmosphere. the boss had no choice but to show him the door after only three days on the job. on the fourth day, the kid returned with his mother.
10:42 pm
the mother walked up to the ceo and told him to apologize to her son because he had heard his self-esteem. another true story. again, i have to apologize on behalf of the woodstock generation. the notion of giving someone so forth for doing nothing raised its ugly head. before that generation, you had to earn self-esteem. you had to go out in the woods and figure things out for yourself. you had to listen to people who had been doing the job before you got there, but for the notion of rewards for nothing. you had to be at least passably good at what you did in order to participate. before the era of overpraise and play dates, there was a time you had to try out for little league. if you were not any good at it, you simply did not make the team. you did not get a uniform and a trophy simply for showing up. but what you did get was a
10:43 pm
golden opportunity that gifted you for the rest of your life. you were able at a young age to learn the skills necessary to handle an emotional crisis. if you did not make the team, you either practiced until you could or you found something else like stamp collecting, tap dancing, are ventriloquism. nobody gave you a trophy just for showing up. yes, i still enjoy tap dancing. [laughter] i did not bring my shoes with me. so you are lucky. parents, i ask you not to spelled your child's -- school your child boss. mail them to the rafters and let them -- n ail -- nail them to the rafters and let them figure it out on their own. [applause] and my advice to you graduates
10:44 pm
is learn how to cook, build something with your own hands, know how to change a car trier -- car tire, learn how to whistle, make a big deal, laugh -- sorry. that is make a baby laugh. it does not have to be yours. most importantly, if you are given the honor of speaking at a commencement, know when to stop. thank you. god bless you all. and have a great life. [applause] >> tuesday, remarks from
10:45 pm
assistant secretary of state kurt campbell on recent bilateral talks with china, and secretary clinton's upcoming trip to indonesia. you can see those comments live tuesday on c-span 3. then a hearing on the security of the electric grid, threats to the power structure and possible witnesses in the system. but starts live at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. earlier this month, supreme court justice on yes sotomayor -- sonya system where -- sonia sotomayor spoke at a commencement ceremony. this is about 15 minutes. >> this year.
10:46 pm
every once in a while, there are special moments in my life when i pinch myself just to make sure i am not dreaming. just before i came out, i pinched myself. this is my very first trip to columbia, south carolina. i hope not my last. and you may be among the largest audiences i have ever addressed. this is a bit awesome. i know there are many parents and grandparents in this audience who are pinching ourselves right now. you dreamed about that baby you saw going growing up and graduating from college. but i bet you could not imagine what it would feel like to be here today, on the day that reality caught up with your dreams. maybe some of you in the class of 2011 pinch yourselves to.
10:47 pm
when you started college or graduate school, and often during your years of study, it may have seemed your graduation would never come. today, you probably are thinking that the time has flown by too fast. trust me, class of 2011. yes, you are awake. and yes, very soon you will be graduates of this prestigious university. i am so deeply honored to share this special day with you. looking out, i see faces that are filled with the joy and pride of accomplishment, accomplishment going of study, hard work, and sacrifice. this is filled with hope for a future that is made brighter by your efforts. today, i hope to commend what you have accomplished and to affirm the optimism you feel. to accomplish my goals, i am inspired by becoming mothers day
10:48 pm
to tell you to stories about remarkable mothers. the first is about my mother. the other story is about the mother of the first south carolinian that i ever met. my mother was going in pr and raised her children in new york city. -- was born in puerto rico and raised her children in new york city. those of you whose families have called the south home for generations might expect to have little in common with a migrant from puerto rico. but my mother's story is filled with uncanny resemblances, i am
10:49 pm
sure, to the lives of many of you in this auditorium. in my mother's story, i believe my friend vera would see her home and all of you will recognize the values that have guided you to this significant moment in your lives. my mother was born in pr in 1927. she grew up in a home filled with poverty and illness but was able to find happiness in one thing -- learning and school. at the end of the school day, my mother would run home to spend an hour among the trees behind her house. there, she would line up her towering friends in her imagination and use a stick as a pointer to teach the trees the lessons she had learned that day. at 17, during world war ii, my mom found a way out of her poverty will contributing to her
10:50 pm
country. she joined the army. just like many others, including senator lindsey gramm, with whom i shared a stage this morning at the law school, and i am sure like the family members of many of you. she became a member of the women's army corps. she was stationed in new york. my mom that my dad. they married and chose to stay in new york. my dad was a factory worker and my mom went to work in a private school in the south bronx which would become her home for the next 35 months. the hospital encouraged her to get a practical nursing degree. regrettably, my dad died when i was 9 and my brother was 6. my mom was alone with very young children and no savings. during most of my tongue could, my mother worked six days a week.
10:51 pm
she struggled to put my brother and i through college and catholic schools because she believed that was the best education she could afford for us. education was always paramount for my mom. through for sacrifice, we learned the value of education as well. when we were in high school, my mom decided to pursue her own dream, and she went to college so she could earn more money to support us. so my mother at age 45 when back-to-school period -- back to school. who is the 72-year-old graduate in this audience? please have the courage to stand up, because i know what it took for you to do what you did. i lived it with my own mom. i hope that classmate is an inspiration to all of you. it takes a dream coming true, and really hard work to make it
10:52 pm
happen. i congratulate the graduate. [applause] with an example like my mom, none of you has to wonder why my brother and i had no choice but to do well in school. it is always because of the encouragement of family and friends that all of us are inspired to do well in some way. and that is true whether you grew up in a housing project in the south bronx or in a one traffic light town in south carolina like my friend vernon. i know that for a fact because of the second story i want to share with you, the story of vera and her son vernon. vernon is an accomplished author and professor of history here in south carolina. but when i met him, i was a college student and he was a graduate student working on his dissertation.
10:53 pm
it seems to me at the time that vernon and i came from different worlds. he told me about work and activities he had done to help his family get by. like selling rabbit pelts, running beagles, and growing peanuts and boiling them for sale. i told him about the things i had done like selling clothes in a dress shop, working in a bakery, and being a gofer in a business office. he talked about his hobbies. i talked about playing handball against the side of buildings and watching the yankees. the university and i share a very deep bond. we have a mutual love of the greatest american pastime, baseball. and we both have a deep admiration and love for bobby richardson, d and new york
10:54 pm
yankees second baseman who started your university's national baseball program. congratulations for winning the 2010 university baseball world series. congratulations. [applause] when i first met vernon, it seemed as though a very deep chasm existed between his world and mine. but as i spent more time with him, i learned that was not the case at all. although he had the most intriguing and beautiful southern drawl, and i to this day have a very heavy new york action -- accent. although we came from such different backgrounds, we nonetheless shared many common values. for example, we shared a deep appreciation for hard work.
10:55 pm
like my mom, burn and's mother was a young widow. robert non- -- vernon's dad died when he was 6. his mom worked tirelessly to clothe and feed her children. she was an insurance agent and drove four hours and days at a time to sustain her family. if his mother instilled in him the value of hard work. like my mother taught me, his mother taught him to dedicate himself not only to supporting his family, but also contributing to his community by public service. we both learned from mothers who are our parents -- heroines to this day to cherish our families and love our god, to support our country by being active citizens, and to be giving
10:56 pm
people to our neighbors. and we learned that it matters less what it is you choose to do than what you do when whatever you choose -- you do it with all your heart. vernon and my mom shared an unyielding passion for education. when i met him, he was deep in his dissertation about reconstruction in the old age bill district in south carolina, and often carried around worn census books documenting the history of the now five counties of that area. i was working on my own undergraduate thesis of the legacy of the first elected governor of puerto rico. today, our educations have taken us to places we never could have imagined. a boy from the town of 96 in south carolina, vernon is a
10:57 pm
professor and historian. a girl from a public housing project in the bronx, i am today a supreme court justice. and i often have to pinch myself about that. i suspect that the story of my stories of vernon's, hardship and a desire for a better future, is not dissimilar from many families in the audience. like my mom, many of your families have made enormous sacrifices for you to make it to this point today. even those of you who grew up in more fortunate circumstances then i have have been guided to this moment in your lives and by the values you have learned through your families and loved ones. everything we value -- education, hard work, generosity, service on behalf of
10:58 pm
others -- we learn from our loved ones. the challenges to find work today are much greater than those vernon and i faced when we graduated. the debts you have incurred are also much larger. i hope, however, that you do not measure the benefit of your education by how fast to get a first job, how much money you make, or the public importance of your position. i hope instead that you measure the value of your education by how it improves the quality of your lives and the lives of those you strive to benefit. student of life can learn only with reflection. i hope in the coming days and years you will think back on your years at this wonderful university, and marvel at the immense value of this education. you will understand that the
10:59 pm
value is having shared great sacrifices with your families and loved ones, and appreciating their guidance and support. the value is in the friends sitting next to you today who will cheer you on throughout your lives. the value is in learning, including from the many esteemed professors who are here to applaud you today, about the generosity of sharing knowledge with others, and the rich rewards of continuing to learn to write your lives. the value is within the challenges you have certainly met and overcome while on this college campus, challenges i know have taught you to broaden your perspectives, and to be relentless in surviving -- in striving to improve yourselves. being with you here today, i see living proof of the values that my mother taught

199 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on