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President Bush Delivers Commencement Address at St. Vincent

更新时间:2009-08-20    来源/发布:www.en369.cn    作者/编辑:admin

May 11, 2007

11:24 A.M EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all, please be seated. Thank you for the warm welcome. Arch-abbot Douglas, Your Excellency, Jim and Mary Towey, members of the faculty, members of the clergy, moms and dads, and -- most important -- the Class of 2007: Thanks for inviting me; I am honored to be here. (Applause.)

Laura and I feel like we have a very special connection to St. Vincent College through the Toweys. We have come to know Jim and his family well during his time in Washington -- after all, he was the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. And now he's attained another high office. So today -- before his family, his friends and colleagues -- I would like to address Jim with two words he probably never thought he would hear from me: Mr. President. (Laughter and applause.)

I know he appreciates the importance I place on my speeches. He knows my style well. I want all of you to know I was very moved by a letter he recently sent me that invited me to this commencement. Here is what Mr. President said: "Mr. President, I believe that by hearing you speak, every member of the Class of 2007 will leave this campus with a priceless lesson about the importance of the English language." (Laughter and applause.) At least he didn't say, "I'm proud to welcome to the podium a man, the first President for whom English was a second language." (Laughter.) I did call him, I said what my speech ought to be about. That's what I asked him, what my speech ought to be about, Jim. He said, "About 10 minutes," so here goes. (Laughter.)

It's a proud moment for the Class of 2007. You're the largest graduating class in your school's history. You're the first class to take a mandatory course in Microwaving -- (laughter) -- a requirement that was imposed after you set off a record number of fire alarms while you were trying to make popcorn. (Laughter.) You cheered the Bearcats with the Carey Crazies. You walked through the lighted arches of Melvin Platz. Some of you are the first in your family to attend college. In a few moments, you will collect your degrees, the Ave Maria Bell will ring, and you will leave this campus with a lifetime of good memories. You've worked hard, and we're all here to congratulate you on a fabulous achievement. (Applause.)

I also congratulate the many people who helped make this day possible. These people include your parents, who paid your tuition and were patient -- even after the phone bills arrived. (Laughter.) I thank the people who have worked hard to make sure you leave with a sound and solid college degree -- and that's the St. Vincent's faculty. I appreciate very much the monks of the Arch-abbey -- the men whose prayers are surely responsible for some of the degrees being offered today. (Laughter.) And so I ask the Class of 2007 to continue to make these good people proud; to take what you've learned here into the world, and always live up to the high ideals that this college stands for.

 

These ideals of charity and community have a special resonance for Americans. From the beginning, America has offered the world a new model for strong community life. In the early 19th century, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States. He was impressed by the way Americans came together in voluntary associations to help out a neighbor in need. And in his book, "Democracy in America," he wrote something that captured the spirit of this great country. He said, "When an American asks for the co-operation of his fellow citizens, it is seldom refused . If some great and sudden calamity befalls a family, the purses of a thousand strangers are at once willingly opened."

De Tocqueville saw the good heart of America back in the early 19th century -- and we continue to see the good heart of America in the early 21st century. We see it in citizens who responded to the worst atrocity on our soil with acts of selflessness and compassion. We see it in the historic new commitments our nation has made to alleviate poverty and suffering -- by feeding the hungry and fighting malaria and working to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa.

We see it in the volunteers who serve in our faith-based and community organizations -- good and decent folks who are living the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Today, more than 61 million Americans volunteer their time to serve others, more than three-quarters of our citizens give to charity. The volunteer spirit of America makes us unique, it represents the true strength of our nation, and it must constantly be reinvigorated and renewed.

And that's why it's vital for our country that our young people step forward -- and serve a cause larger than yourselves. When you serve your fellow citizens, you find benefits you'll never imagine. You discover that a caring person is sometimes all it takes for someone to turn their lives around. You see for yourself that kindness and respect make an enormous difference in a person's life. You learn to take the initiative, instead of waiting for a government to step in. You become more aware of others, a better man or woman to your friends and families, a better citizen of your country. You start to put your own difficulties in perspective. And soon you learn a great truth: that you always get more out of service than you give.

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