May 6, 2011 - Commencement Speech - Cameron University
May 17, 2011
Thank you Lieutenant Alexander for that nice introduction.
Congratulations on you're commissioning in the United States Army's Field Artillery and Military Intelligence Branches.
Also, congratulations to all of the 20 recently commissioned cadets from your ROTC Comanche Battalion.
President Cindy Ross -
Thank you for inviting me to speak at this commencement and be a part of this wonderful day at Cameron University.
I have known President Ross for more than thirty years and have the greatest admiration for her leadership, determination, strength of character and wisdom.
Today, I spent the day at Ft. Sill and I have to tell you I could not be more impressed with the history and traditions that emanate from this place.
The development of the post, the leadership education and Joint training is what make our Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy the strongest and most versatile force ever assembled.
I thank the men and women in uniform, their families and the many civilians and community members that support them, for their selfless service and sacrifice.
Talk about visit to schools....
Member's faculty, staff, family and friends....
Thank you for the support, the mentoring and the care of these graduates.
Not only are you and thousands of other fellow students around the country about to leave the womb of this protected place, but you are about to play in the larger sandbox of making choices in a global setting in an unsettled environment.
This week has been a very telling time for our country.
America is a complex nation, large and diverse with great character and yet much harmony.
That harmony has always centered on the idea that we possess a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Our character is strong because we believe we have a right to make choices and to own those choices regardless of what outcomes may result.
Americans have always been willing to risk making bad choices from time to time, in order to insure that our liberty and due process is protected.
For example, due process may sometimes set a guilty person free to insure that our process will protect the innocent.
And throughout our history, our greatness as a people can be seen in how our bad choices have been corrected by better choices.
Our pendulum of right and wrong doesn't to get stuck on one side or the other for too long; it swings, sometimes all too slowly, and thus always keeps moving towards the freedom to make choices that help our country be a better place.
When that pendulum moves against our freedom and liberty to choose, it does so because there are some who want to make those choices for us.
They do not believe we have a vote in this matter.
They do not believe in a person's natural right to make choices....
They are tyrants and despots.
They want to indoctrinate, exploit, control and manipulate others for personal gain, religion or power.
Let me give you a few examples:
On September 16, 1920, a horse drawn cart loaded with 100 pounds of dynamite and 500 pounds of cast- iron slugs exploded in front of the J.P. Morgan Bank Manhattan, New York.
The explosion killed 30 people and injured hundreds.
It destroyed or impacted buildings for blocks.
It was believed to be the work of anarchists but no one was ever arrested or convicted.
In September 1963, four little black girls attending the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama were killed by a bomb placed there by the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist group intent on tyranny.
On April 19, 1995, the most lethal act of domestic violence to date occurred when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injured 675 persons.
We all wondered why an American would bring such pain, suffering and grief to our Nation other than for the tyranny of his beliefs.
And when many of you were about 12 years of age, the attacks on New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 took the life of nearly 3,000 people.
What these events had in common was a person or persons who desired to make choices for us and who were willing to go to any extreme to control us and our beliefs.
Osama bin Laden was such a tyrant....
Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Last Sunday May, 2, 2011 that tree was watered by the blood of a despot, a manipulator, an advocate of death and destruction, Osama bin Laden.
And last Sunday America took a deep breath as we came to know that our struggle to bring this tyrant to justice was over.
Nearly ten years after the destruction of the World Tide Center and the attack on the Pentagon, US Special Forces killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, the creator of Al Qaeda, a vicious Jihadist terror organization.
On that same day, the tree of Liberty was also watered by the blood of American patriots, nine soldiers and three marines wounded in action in Afghanistan.
Today the world is a better place not because terrorism is over or Al Qaeda is no longer or the pendulum will not swing again, but one less tyrant lives on.
With your families and friends by your side in body and spirit
You leave this great institution of higher learning with two important tenets.
Your found wisdom here and your what you mean to learn from it, is the surest way to freedom and
You will surely shape the choices we all have for the future.
You will be the
Builders, judges, healers, protectors, designers, artist, discoverers, thinkers....the negotiators, coaches, counselors, managers, teachers, workers, soldiers...
You will be the doers and movers, creators and users, fathers and mothers of liberty.
So be about the now, life and nature take many turns and will not wait for planning and dreaming.
Focus on the present, on those persons around you and do well by them.
What brings this home for me are the soldiers your ages that I meet in Afghanistan or Iraq, or at bases like Ft Sill or who have deployed to Kosovo or Haiti and hundreds of other places around the world in defense of our country.
Or those two 21 year olds whom the President just this week awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for their valor during the Koran War.
Men and women who in combat must always be focused on the now, their most important person being by their side, and always looking to do good for them but in doing so, also doing good for us.
It reminds me of what Charles Dickens wrote in a Tale of Two Cities:
"Think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you."
To be sitting out there, you have already made good choices, protect them enhance them and fight for them and always lead your life to help your neighbor...
Congratulations and best wishes....
May God Bless you and those around you.