Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2002

Grads hear rallying cries for freedom

Speakers at commencements talk of just causes in U.S. war on terrorism

May 12, 2002


— The war on terrorism is not only just, but will end with terrorists surrendering, Sen. John McCain told graduates of The Citadel on Saturday, as students around the nation were given the traditional send-off.

"Our enemies are weaker than we are in arms and men, but weaker still in causes," the Republican from Arizona said at the state military college.

Kansas University's commencement will be May 19 at Memorial Stadium. It will begin with a procession of faculty, graduates and dignitaries at 2:30 p.m. on Memorial Drive, down Mount Oread, and into the stadium.

"They fight to express an irrational hatred of all that is good in humanity, a hatred that has fallen time and again to the armies and ideals of the righteous," McCain said. "We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. We will never surrender. They will."

Twenty women were among the 298 graduating cadets, including seven black women, the first to graduate since the school opened its gates to women six years ago.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft told graduates at Catholic University in Washington that bedrock values such as truth and freedom are under assault from terrorists who try to force people toward conclusions they never would embrace on their own.

"In the midst of this assault, we have learned that our values are neither self-executing nor self-sustaining," Ashcroft, a lay minister and the son of a Pentecostal preacher, said in a commencement address. "They must be defended, not just with military might, but with deeper devotion."

Ashcroft received an honorary degree in the ceremony on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Weaving religious references throughout his address, he told graduates that freedom is "not the grant of any government or any prince or any king, but it is in fact the gift of God."

In Oxford, Miss., 40 years after James Meredith was escorted through an angry mob to become the first black man to enroll at the University of Mississippi, his son, Joseph Meredith, graduated as the business school's top doctoral student.

"I think there's no better proof that white supremacy was wrong than not only to have my son graduate, but to graduate as the most outstanding graduate of the school," Meredith said in an interview.

"That, I think, vindicates my whole life."

New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen gave Saturday's commencement speech to about 2,200 graduates. She said she realized "politics does matter" when President Jimmy Carter brought Israel and Egypt together in 1978.

"I urge you to consider the value of public service in our American experiment," she said. "Don't be afraid to get involved. Run for office. You won't win every battle, but the only way you'll truly lose is if you choose to sit out the debate."

Elsewhere, graduates of the fledgling Appalachian School of Law, where a former student gunned down three people in January, were urged to stay near the Grundy, Va., campus and serve the small surrounding mountain communities.

"This law school, made by your hands here in the deepest recesses of Appalachia and you as individuals will emerge from this tragedy stronger," said Jesse L. White Jr., co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency that oversees the region.

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