Graduation Speech

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Ladies, gentlemen, parents, friends, family, staff, fellow students:

Instead of taking up more time and reading my speech, it is available to you at http://www.olen’ Thank you.

No, just kidding.

But seriously folks...

Today we are gathered here to celebrate our graduation from 12 long years of schooling. The education granted to us has been a privilege. One so graciously given to us by the citizens of our state, by our community, and by our parents. Today would not be possible without them.

So far this evening we have looked back over the many past memories of our school years, remembering the good times and the bad, talking about the fun times, and so on. Now I would like to bring your focus to the present, and make a challenge for us for the future.

The ceremony tonight is a very old and traditional one. In past, such a graduation meant not only the completion of a school career, but also a step into adulthood, into society, into the world. With this came many duties and responsibilities. This still applies to today. I’m sure many of you have heard the “going into the real world” speech as often quoted at high school graduations. You know, the one outlining the responsibilities of living on your own: cooking your own meals, balancing a checkbook, doing your own laundry, etc. Those are all well and good, but I’m talking about something a little different — responsibilities which go beyond those — the duties and rights of citizenship.

Most of you are 18 already, or will be very soon, this is the age at which we can vote. As full citizens, it is now our right, and one which we should not let pass by. Our country is founded upon a democracy, and all democracies have one integral part: power b...

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...hould in the future suffer what they did — to save freedom by bloodshed. We owe it to them to prevent wars, and to know, to understand, to teach, and to learn from our neighbors around the world, so that we might learn to live in peace.

I am saying all of this tonight as a challenge to us as we venture forth this day.

It is tempting for us as graduating seniors to treat this moment as one of reveling in our independence from high school. But this night is not just for the moment; it is also for our futures to look back to. Let’s celebrate the new privilege and responsibility which will be given to us as the class of the new millennium: to make it better than the past. For we should all be concerned with the future, because that is where we will all spend the rest of our lives.

Thank you, everyone. And the best of luck to the future of the Class of 2006!