tv General Dunford Delivers St. Michaels College Commencement Address CSPAN May 29, 2017 3:14pm-3:34pm EDT
the joint chiefs of staff, the highest ranking offer -- officer in the u.s. military. he gave the commencement address at his alma mater, st. michael's -- ine in cold chester, vermont. general dunford: let me start with the father. thanks for over six decades of service. it is very humbling to be here with you. [applause] for the record, you do all right -- you do outrank me. you would expect me to say it is an honor to be with you, but it really is. i would like to begin by joining
the president and others by thanking the family members here with us as well as the faculty and the staff and the mentors that invested so much over the years. i know your support made it possible for each of the graduates out here today to have accomplished all that they have accomplished and i know you are very proud, as mi. several people mentioned mother's day to avoid getting in trouble at home i want to join those that have recognized mother's day. what i think i will do is just ask all the mothers here to please stand up and be recognized. [applause] i know that some of us have lost our moms along the way and they are in our thoughts and prayers today. i want to take a moment to offer personal condolences for those that have being remembered
today. as i have prepared my remarks this past week, i reflected on my own graduation from st. michael's 40 years ago and i know that probably sounds like engine history to the class of 2017, but i remember quite a bit of detail for my graduation. that morning, i was one of two -- ents i remember being surrounded by friends and family and the sense of promise that was there that morning. i remember watching across the ceremony surrounded by my classmates and just like it was as i watched you this morning, it was a tremendous amount of excitement. i also remember our commencement speaker, send written -- senator smith from the state of maine and before i graduated, she was an iconic figure. the speech she gave was
recognized as one of the most significant smith from the statf maine and before i graduated, she speeches in u.s. senate history. unfortunately, i am not sure i heard a word she said that morning. i made that comment about a year ago in the margaret chase smith library -- and the margaret chase smith library sent me a copy of her remarks. i actually missed a very -- very powerful message. by the time she spoke on my graduation day, my mind was miles away. . was ready to move on mentally, i had made the break from my college days and i suspect there is one or two of you out there that share that sentiment. with that in mind, i challenge myself to say something this morning that is relevant to those of you graduating. something you may actually remember at least until tomorrow morning. i am going to a cop is my mission by sharing just a few thoughts -- accomplish my
mission by sharing just a few thoughts. maybe just be a bit more attentive than i was. i chose to talk about leadership because i believe we should expect leadership from graduates of an institution founded by the society of saint evan. a group committed to serving others. we should expect leadership from men and women who graduate from a college that emphasizes social justice. i remember the words of 1977dent henry back in when they were asked why st. answer's part of their was "because we don't train students for followership, for jobs that may become technically obsolete." st. michael's aims to give you sound thinking, creativity,
resourcefulness, self-assurance, universal skills in every profession in any age. i think their words are as true 1977.7 as they were in one of the qualities all great leaders share is moral courage. the ability to think for yourself and the willingness to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. i didn't appreciate it at the time, but that characteristic defined my commencement speaker, margaret chase smith. in part to pay her back for my inattentiveness in 1977, i would like to share a little bit about her story. she was born in 1897. she was the first woman to serve in both houses of congress and only a handful of women served in the house when she joined in 1940. for over a decade, she was the only woman to serve in the senate as a result of winning a general election. she was a trailblazer with many admirable qualities, but it was the courage she -- that
established her as a truly extraordinary leader. in the 1950's, the nation's confidence was shaken by russia's trouble, success at developing an atomic weapon. the political opportunist senator joseph mccarthy took advantage of what senator smith called the hart trophy, fear, -- rsemen.ith -- 4 ho he literally destroyed lives and careers with rumor and innuendo. although many agreed with his broad sweeping accusations, very few had the courage to take on senator mccarthy. on the first of june, 1950, center it margaret chase smith took to the senate floor and delivered a speech she declared .s a declaration conscience
for many reasons, it was a bold step for her to take. she was a very junior senator and at the time, mccarthy was very popular here in new england. as the only woman in the senate, she was under extreme scrutiny at a time when women -- many believe the women had no place in politics. she was well aware she was risking her reputation in a political career. she looked at the evidence behind mccarthy's accusations and concluded whation. to give you some sense of what she was experiencing, there is a train that runs under the capitol building. that morning before she took to the senate floor, she found herself on the small little train that moves from one building to the other with senator mccarthy. mccarthy had some hint of what was going to happen on the senate floor and he got right up in her face and said, senator i understand you are going to give a speech this morning. is there anything i should know?
to the smith moved senate floor alone and took on joseph mccarthy and after her speech through for example, others began to speak out and the dark chapter of mccarthyism was eventually closed. senator smith knew what it meant to be a leader. she knew that being a leader meant doing the right thing, even when it was hard. in her own words, the right thing is not only -- not always the popular with the easy thing. standing for right when it is unpopular is the true test of moral current. 2017,tes of st. michael's future leaders, you will all have -- you won't all have a moment in your lives as consequential as senator smith, but you will have a moment when standing for right is hard. remember the example of senator margaret chase smith who stood right here 40 years ago speaking to the class of 1977. another quality i have found in great leaders is a commitment to serve something greater than yourself. a passion and a willingness to
serve others. to hear the words of christ to offer inspiration "the son of man did not come to serve -- to be served, but to serve." as a 13-year-old growing up here --vermont, he watched serving african-americans in alabama and felt the calling. he was posted in alabama and spent his days doing what any priest would do, visiting people in their homes, caring for the ss.k, and offering ma he opened up a hospital and educated children in a parish school. win civil rights leaders came calling, he linked arms with them viewing their struggle as a natural extension
to his service to the community. he offered his parish as a training place for volunteers. he called on christians from across the country to join the fight for civil rights. in doing so, he became a target for those resistant to change. before a grand jury. he received menacing phone calls in the middle of the night and endured repeated threats against his life. none of that could keep him from answering his call to serve. he continued to care for the sick in their homes and in the hospital. and heed as a handyman used his position to call for quality. in 1965 win civil rights leaders rallied, father will let open them with open arms. when peaceful martians were -- himself, recovering from kidney
surgery got up out of his hospital bed to help those who had been injured that day. as protesters reorganized, father willett worked behind the scenes and brought priests, ministers, rabbis, and lehman's yman to alabama. procession of the 5000 americans shortly after they arrived on the steps of the capitol in alabama. five months later, the voting rights act was passed, providing prevention -- protection for those who marched on montgomery. felt the sting of loss. his archbishop was angered by his role in the civil rights movement and removed him from his parish. demonstrating what it means to be a great leader, father
willett maintained his commitment to serve others. rather than give into bitterness and disappointment, he concluded with these words, "all we do we must do with love. as a person and individual, i matter very little. although, the church matters a great deal. " a leader of consequence, it is never about you. graduates of thing michael's class of 2017, future leaders, a few of you will be -- few of you will be called upon to serve in a manner such as father willett, but many of you will lead in education or public service and i hope you remember the story of father willett. the greatest call is to serve those you lead. those who may be still with me are probably having a hard time identifying with these examples. you may have taken a deep well
and wondered if being a leader requires the selflessness of margaret chase smith. if you sit with those concerns, i do not share them. what i learned in my 40 years of service is that extraordinary leaders are actually ordinary men and women who make a commitment to excellence. leaders are men and women who take down deep and do what is right, even when there is a voice inside that says take the easy way. not share your concerns because i look at the generation of st. michael's graduates who sat where you sit this morning and have gone on to be leaders of consequence in a wide range of endeavors. several examples i am honored to be up here on the stage with -- a human rights activists, brian latency in the creative arts, , and a patrick leahy leading marine biologist. in the interest of time, i did not describe the challenges that currently face our nation.
from a security perspective alone, i think it is fair to say the challenges we face today are as complex and difficult as any we faced since world war ii. the pace of change is unprecedented. navigating in the days ahead will require leadership. your generation of leadership will play an increasingly important role. our education system, our military, the public and private sector, all need strong, value-based leadership. i graduates of st. michael's, believe you are uniquely capable of providing that leadership. i will close by making a simple request regardless of where life takes you, have the moral courage to do what is right even when it is tough. commit to being something bigger than yourself whether it is in your professional life or your personal life. remember the ethics instilled here at st. michael's and bring
that forth with you as you go to throw your life. perhaps inspired by the story of margaret chase smith or father willett, be a leader of consequence. to the saint michael's community and class of 2017 and the families here today particularly to the faculty and the staff, it has been an extraordinary day for me to be literally back home here at st. michael's and to have a chance to look at your faces -- look at the proud faces of the parents here and to be part of such a big day in your life. i wish you all the best as you go forward to be leaders of consequence. god bless you all and is the father said, "remain always faithful." thank you so much. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> it is a gift to any woman willing to open her heart or mind to it. it is. to have this.ssed you are blessed to have this. although i know your first year you probably didn't think it was such a gift because i was there for a lot of those phone calls that wendy made. daddy, this is hard. [laughter] they just want you to study all the time. [laughter] yes, they do. and that was freshman year. about mid south year, she had several ethnicities and realized what all of you had to come to realize here -- you do this for yourself. you don't do this for anyone else. [applause] everything you heard about this
institution is true. it is a prestigious and powerful place that will wear you out. is that womanens thing starts to kick in around mid sophomore year. [applause] we saw it again with wendy. that was one of the things that happened. she came here a naive girl from ,allas and steadman and glenda i and all of those who love to you,e grateful wellesley, for the women in process you gave us back. you could feel the change about a year and a half after being your because she went from daddy, this is hard to daddy -- [laughter] i won't be able to go on the trip because i have to study, daddy.
that woman thing. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, the band was created as a public service by america for television companies and is brought to you today by your cable and satellite provider. >> tomorrow on c-span, a look at the politics and security in the asia-pacific region and tensions at 10 korean peninsula a.m. eastern here on c-span. later in the day, a symposium exploring school integration the board ofnd education. the landmark decision that found state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. live coverage from the thurgood marshall college fund tomorrow on c-span.
>> it resulted in a naval victory for the u.s. over japan just six months after the attack on pearl harbor. american history tv will be live all day from the macarthur memorial visitors center in norfolk, virginia for the 75th anniversary of the battle of midway. featured speakers include the author of the five star admirals who won the war at sea. , the odyssey of the code breaker who outwitted yamamoto and -- yamamoto at midway and the untold story of the battle of midway. and the co-author of "never call -- watch the 75th midway anniversary center live from norfolk virginia on