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tv   [untitled]    June 8, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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diplomats, intelligence officers, educators, environmentalists, health care professionals, legal advocates, political figures, titans of industry or kpempl lair citizen volunteers, there are countless ways to serve the public good and numerous issues that stand to benefit from the principals and values at the core of a dickinson education. now service by its nature is hard work. and i'd ask each of you graduating today to recall the wisdom in teddy roosevelt's assertion that far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. in fact, living those words will not only ensure that you enjoy the best prize that life has to offer, but also ensure that you remain faithful to the values of your beloved alma mater.
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inevitably there may be days when you feel overwhelmed by what you view ooze an insurmountable task or problem. never let those moments of frustration deter you. rather rely on the strength of what you learned here. some five years ago i was the newly appointed commander in iraq overseeing a surge of forces and implementing the most important surge, the surge of ideas on the conduct of counterinsurgentsy operations. it was an excruciatingly difficult period. well over 200 enemy attacks per day at the height of the violence. during that time, i occasionally drew strength by recalling general grant's words after the first bloody day in the battle of shiloh. grant was sitting in the rain under the tree late that night. his army having nearly been driven into the tennessee river. his men having sustained terrible losses to a fierce confederate attack.
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his most trusted come raid general sherman appeared out of the dark and sat down next to him in the rain. sherman could hear the cries of the wounded all around them and he could sense grant's mood. he let a few minutes pass before saying a word. finally he spoke. well grant he observed, we've had the devils' own day, haven't we. yep, grant replied, taking a soggy cigar out of his mouth. lick em tomorrow. relentless and determined our soldiers embody those qualities as well as initiative in innovativeness and courage during the tough long days of the surge. and those qualities continue to be their hallmarks and we carry out further difficult missions against resilient enemies in the most challenging of conditions. our troopers have in truth helped us learn yet again that there are few tasks in light of
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value that can be earned by any other course than through sheer hard work. of course, even sheer hard work is only productive if it is informed by study, by the lessons learned by others and of course by one's own experience. and i encourage you as well to make yourself an expert in your profession or craft obe a voracious reader and to thirst for more knowledge and more understanding. to again draw from the words of teddy roosevelt these from his famous man many the arena speech. it is not the critic who counts, he observed. not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. who strives and eres and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error
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and shortcoming. but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions who spends himself in a worthy cause. who had the best nose in the end the triumph of high achievement and who had the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. each of you graduating today is about to enter an arena. for some including those who have served in the rotc program here it might mean what is arguably the most unforgiving arena. helping to fight our nation's wars as leaders of its most precious resource, its sons and daughters in uniform. you should know that we look forward to your leadership of our men and women as they understand take critical missions. or it might be in our nation's intelligence community as an officer, an analyst or one of our creative science and
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technology officers all in one way or another at the pointy end of the spear. fighting against terrorism and working to prevent a variety of other threats to our nation. but the arena is big. and the needs are many. and those of you who will serve our world, whatever the pursuit, you too will very much be in the arena. and we look forward to your accomplishments as you take your newly earned dickinson diploma, begin to master a profession and work to find creative solutions to the challenges that us at home and abroad. helping our country down the path to further economic recovery, to improve our children's education and to preserve our freedoms. this morning is an occasion on which we say, well done and congratulations on all that you
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have accomplished here in the course of earning the coveted diploma you'll receive in a few moments. all of us here to celebrate this occasion with you are confident that the wonderful education you've received the great experiences you've had and the superb leadership skills will stand you in very good stead as you embark on the endeavours of life before you. may god bless your efforts as you grapple with the challenges of your time and work hard at what we all hope to be work that is truly worth doing. good luck. godspeed, go red devils, thank you very much. [ applause ]
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remitive virginia fox of north carolina, you are a former college administrator. tell us about those experiences. >> i am a former community college president and college administrator. and let me tell you that community college graduations and particularly g.e.d. graduations are some of the most emotional graduations i've ever been to. most community college students work and have families and go to school also. when those students graduate it is a family affair. most of them have really struggled to get their degree.
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the average community college student is 31 years of age. some of them have been out of school for a long time. those are some of the most heartwarming graduations that you will ever see and when i was president of the community college i always had the students speak in addition to having a major speaker so the students would tell their stories and they would usually move you to tears because they were so emotional. >> what do you recall about your own commencement experiences? >> i wasn't able to go to my undergraduate commencement. i was able to go to my master's degree commencement. it was outside in keenan stadium ark wonderful place to be. i did my dock turl work at unc
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greensboro. this was a very emotional event because i had members of my family there. my parents were not alive, but my god mother, my aunt and lots of family. that was a very rewarding event for me because it had taken me almost eight years to get that degree. it was a very rewarding experience. >> congressman, virginia fox, now in your fourth term representing north carolina's fifth district, thanks very much for joining us. >> and thank you for highlighting this. graduation is an important time for us to celebrate in the united states. now a commencement address by u.s. senator sherrod brown. he spoke at hiram college in hiram, ohio for about 20 minutes. the ohio democrat talked about work ethic. he was joined by his wife connie schultz.
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[ applause ] >> thank you. he's impressive. i said to the president i'm glad when i listened to him and think about his potential ambitions and i'm glad there are two senate seats in ohio not just one. thank you, rodney for that. it's a thrill to be here. connie and i have never done this before. we've never done a joint graduation speech, a joint commencement speech. we've only once ever done a joint speech of any kind. a bit of an experiment. i appreciate all of you gives us a thans chachl as i said we're thrilled to be here. see what happens when you do this? is that better? never had anybody do that either when i speak. congratulations to all of you. tom who is one of the great college presidents in this
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state. ken moore and the board of trustees, thank you for your inspiring words. listening to dr. day talk about innovation and values and diversity. that's what draws me to hiram college and knowing the stature of this school in what it brings to so many students from the -- access student haves to the faculty here. i spoke right before we started with joan who teaches accounting to listen to the enthusiasm who he had retired from a company after 30 years brings to this campus and other faculty ayou can to, how exciting it is to teach here for them and the energy you said you bring to his class and his office door day after day means so much. as your senator i get lots of mail and lots of requests from people around our state. i get requests to help with
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veterans with the veterans administration issue or social security or medicare or pell grants or stafford loans and my job in many ways is to help people one at a time. one of the most interesting letters i got, i got a request from a young father from cincinnati who wrote a letter on me behalf of his soon to be 1-year-old twin sons. like many of you he worries for his young children's future, the type of world that they would grow up in. he asked this simple question, what's the best advice you have ever or never received? i explained like many ohioans i benefitted from family and friends who provided consult and support in mansfield, ohio, as i was groiing up the youngest of three sone brothers. as a son i learned compassion my father the town doctor treated patients regardless of their ability to pay. from my mother a teacher i learned about deansy from the
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community service that she demonstrated throughout her 88 years. my brothers and i each of us eagle scouts learned about hard work from summers spent working on our family farm. my wife, connie, teaches me about love and commitment. as a father my daughters teach me that nothing is sweeter than the success of your children. nothing more wonderful than their smiles, nothing more worrisome than their tears. i explained to the 1-year-old twins that a life in public service can be both challenging and rewarding. regardless of whether we agreed or disagree we all reach for the american dream. we live in a time with issues of peace and security and economic and opportunity -- economic opportunity and equality are at the forefront of our lives. yet, the reach for the american dream is grounded in our nation's history of ingenuity and innovation. our renowned perseverance as the president talked about and the
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heroism of the service members serving our country all sources of our pride. so many of you as graduate who is are unsure of your job prospects, who are uncertain of your future, i recognize these words might sound a bit hollow. but please understand a couple of things most people that you as graduating seniors look up to so many people whom you admire have struggled and failed and struggled more and then succeeded before you knew them. your favorite professors didn't start out as professors. connie didn't always write a column for the state's largest newspaper. in fact, she didn't have her first full time job in journalism until she was 36 years old. she was a 36-year-old single mother and ten years later she won the pu lits ser prize.
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that's worth clapping for. [ applause ] with these struggles each of you understand with the skills and the work habits and the knowledge and the abilities that you have honed here, each of you will find a job. each of you has great talent. otherwise you wouldn't have been admitted to hiram college to binn with. each of you has a good work ethic otherwise you wouldn't be going across this stage later today. your struggles will inform you. your perseverance will carry you. let me tell you a couple of great stories and then turn it over to connie. my first story is is about another group of people who simply didn't give up. two weeks ago, i greeted 75 veterans -- two weeks ago at the world war ii memorial in washington i greeted 75 veterans from to low dee, ohio.
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they were part of something called the honor flight. all of these men and women were in their 80s and 90s. all world war ii veterans. all coming for the first time to see the world war ii memorial in washington. in what was particularly interesting about them, how for many of them this was is first time that they began to tell their stories to their children and grandchildren. world war ii veterans as my father was were almost always reluctant to talk about their service. they came home, moved forward with their lives and didn't really look back. i urge you as graduates few of you have grandparents who are world war ii veterans. i urge you to talk to your parents and grandparents and ask them to tell their stories to you. ask them to share with you their early struggles in life. you struggle when you come out of college and you go to grad school or go into the workforce. listen to others tell you what they endure in their struggles and how they move forward as i
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got the chance to listen to so many of these world war ii veterans at the world war ii memorial in washington a couple of weeks ago. one story also stood out to me. the date was january 21st, 2009. president obama at that point for about 18 hours had continued the tradition begun by george washington for 200 plus years in our nation's history. the new president attends the national prayer service for 100 years or so that national prayer service has been held at the national cathedral in washington. connie and i were lucky enough to be there. we listened to reverend sharon watkins who is the first woman ever to deliver a sermon at the national prayer service. she spoke about harmonies of liberty and she shared a piece of wisdom attributed to the cherokee nation. here's what she told us, one evening a grandfather was
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teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each of us in the world faces. there are two wolves struggling inside each of us the old man said to his grandson. one wolf is vengfulness and anger and resentment and self-pity and fear. the other wolf is compassion and faithfulness in hope and truth and love. the grandfather stopped, the grandson sat thinking and then asked, which wolf wins, grandfather? and the grandfather replied, the one you feed. thank you. connie. [ applause ] >> standing here watching sherrod speak it occurred to me i should make one wish for all of you. may all of you be so fortunate and smart to marry your hero, because i did. he said he did, too.
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nice. well played. sherrod talked about the importance of the long view in your lives. i want to bring it down to what you can do starting today. what you as individuals can do. i'm asking you to engage in the kind of activism that instantly challenges the lives of two people. you and the stranger right in front of you. i come from a working class family. by the way, how many here, show me your hands, how many of you are the first in your family to get a college degree? look at that. congratulations. i'm one of you. and yes, you are supposed to be here. you have earned this. i think when you come from the work class, you never stop wondering if you belong. i want to save you a lot of time and worry, you do. i was the oldest of four children. we grew up in ash, ohio. it was my job in the summer
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months to watch after my siblings. but every summer at the end my mom would do something special just for me and she would ask the neighbor lady to baby sit and go to a department store called carlisles because they had a diner in their basement. this was a very big deal. and i remember this particular year it was 1968 and i was 11 years old and i still remember what we ate the day my mom and i got all dressed up and we went to lunched a carlisles. i had toasted cheese sandwich, tomato soup and a milk shake. some things you don't forget. i remember the waitress treating us like family. just like waitresses do all across america. and we had the nicest time until right towards the end we were waiting for our own check to come and the same waitress who waited on us was waiting on a man two tables back with a suit on and he was yelling at her. and i don't have any recollection of what he was yelling at her. i just recall her saying over and over again, i'm sorry, sir.
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i'm so sorry. i'm sorry until she ran off in tears. my mother all 4'11" of her with her big beehive turned toward him and tried to stare him down. he would not look at her. she finally turned to me. honey, don't marry him until you see how he treats the waitress. what my mom meant of course, is how we treat the people we're allowed to mistreat is the measure of who we are as human beings. so we fast forward to 2003 and sherrod and i were at a charitable event the largest party center in cleveland. and most of us have seen the coat check people. you have a coat check and there's a big tip jug and it said tips on it. we were getting ready to leave and we were standing in line behind a number of people waiting to retrieve our coats. the woman behind the counter who we recognized as one of the middle aged women serving part
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times with no benefits was waiting behind the counter giving people their coats. she looked really tired. when i got up there i said you're ready to go home. she said i am exhausted. and i pointed to the tip jar and i said, well at least you get to keep these. she said, we don't keep the tips. i said, what do you mean? who keeps the tips? she said management keeps the tips. and i said, what? and i heard sherrod behind me say, oh, no. so i called management on that monday and the first person i got was a middle manager who started yelling at me and told me that nobody cares who keeps the tips. she said nobody's even asked us. the reason they don't ask is because it says tips on the jar they assume it's going to the person behind the counter. well in my business you're on to something when two hours later you get a call from two vice presidents on speakerphone and you didn't call them. you really know you're on to something when the first words out of one of their mouths is
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connie there's no story here. don't do that, okay. red meat. i gave them a chance to change their policy during our conversation. they refused. what they told me is connie, nobody cares who keeps the tips. well i thought they were wrong. so i wrote a column and told the story pretty much the way i just told you and then i asked my readers. they say you don't care who keeps the tips. i think they're wrong. what do you think? they changed their policy on the most popular radio show on cleveland by 11:00 a.m. that morning. because guess what, everybody was caring who kept the tips. [ applause ] i tell you those two stories because you can make a difference every single day you decide that how you treat the people you are allowed to mistreat will be like they are family to you at the very least as if they were just like you,
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because guess what, they are. they don't have your college degrees, typically, but they are people who have dreams. they have families. they have people they love and they have people who love them just like you. so what i'm asking from you today is that you become activists for kindness. i don't mean the have a nice day as you're flying out the door. i mean know the names of the people you see every day. learn them. if you always go to the same coffee shop, you probably out to know the names of the people. if you've got janitors cleaning the bathrooms where you work or live, i think you probably ought to know their names, too. if you've got a guard at the front desk at the next place you work, why don't you get to know his or her name because they do all have names. sherrod talked about the power of the story, about those world war ii veterans about the wisdom of our elders and that grandfather. i want to remind you of something. you too have a story.
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you already have a story. there's not a one of you in this audience up there or down here on this floor with us who hasn't already had to make countless decisions about whether or not for example you're going to be bitter about something that happened in your life. keep in mind that definition of resentment is when you drink the poison and expect someone else to hurt. doesn't hurt. you have the richest lives potentially. and i want you to know something about the richest lives, they never ever have straight trajectories. i love to read "the new york times" obituaries. i know how weird that may sound to you except when you read them you keep reading life stories where people had this disappointment, that stumble and yet they kept going and lived lives that merited "the new york times" obituaries. although i still think there should be more women's obituaries in there. of course, i do. most lives worth living the
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trajectories are more like popcorn in a hot skillet. sherrod mentioned my wife is exhibiting for you. at every juncture. at every moment own your own story. own your own narrative. ask yourself, who will i be in this moment? who will i be in the face of this challenge? it's a choice every single time. there will always be people who underestimate you in your life. try not to be one of them. i come from the working class as i said. and i remember well the lessons from my parents. my dad vowed that nup not one of us would ever carry a lunch pail to work. my dad worked for 36 years for cleveland electric i lum nating. his job title was maintenance. i didn't know what that meant until after he died and i finally toured the vacant plant where he worked. maintenance meant he could do every job in that plant. and i remember a moment when i was a sophomore in high school and it was a summer day and we were playing catch and my little
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brother and i while my dad sat on the front stoop with whatever beer was on sale drinking a bottle of beer while mom made supper in the kitchen and he was critiquing our throws and i will never forget him shaking his head. i said what is it dad? he didn't even look at us. he said you could teach a monkey to do what i do. that's how my dad felt about his life. my parents thought they were too nobodies. but they were going to raise four somebodies. and all four of us went to college. i can tell you something, i will not live a day without remembering my roots. whatever your roots are, you need to embrace them and be proud of them because they have made you, perhaps they have given you all kinds of challenges. those challenges have made you. whatever struggles you had came from where you came from. look at you now. you're about to graduate. i had an editor once tell me shortly before the pull
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advertiser tell me, connie, you are not the working class. you are an intellectual. i told him, film an intellectual, i'm an intellectual from the working class. we got smart people, too. and i'm reminded of two lines from an interview with the african-american poet lucille clifton which continued to hang at my desktop computer. what they call you is one thing, what you answer to is something else. i want to end with one more story and it's about my husband. and about his mother, the irrepressible emily campbell brown. emily was 88 years old and dying. she was determined to live so see barack obama become president of the united states and she's laid in that hospice bed and watched him get sworn in on that tv set in her lempl. we all took turns taking care of her. and one morning it was sherrod's and my turn to care for her in addition to the hospice home
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care workers there with us. emily brown must understand was born in mansfield, georgia, and became a civil rights activist in monsfield, ohio. she was one brave lady and she never lost her southern accent or her southern grip. one morning she turned to sherrod and said, sherrod, i would love to hear a song from our lutheran hymnal. sherrod went into the family library and brought the hymnal out. i will never forget the image of sherrod leaning over his mother's bed as he sang three versions of "beautiful savior." you heard how he talks. he sings like that, too. the next morning sherrod's mother turned to him again and said i wish our friend gentleman mean were here. gentleman mean is one of the best singers we know. he said why is that? i would love to hear her sing fl the lutheran


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