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Friday, 7 May, 2010 2:30 AM

President Obama addresses graduates at the University of Michigan

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

President Barack Obama on the big screen during the commencement.

by Michele K.
michelek@mac.com

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- President Obama was the third sitting president to give the commencement for the spring 2010 graduates at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The stadium was full; it was estimated 92,000 people were in attendance including 8,500 graduates. This was the largest group of people he has spoken to since his inauguration. This is the first of four commencements he will be giving. Next month, Obama will be back in Kalamazoo to speak before a high school who won a contest, which President Obama picked. For this commencement he was the third standing President to deliver. Kennedy, Ford, Clinton had done this but none of them were the president at the time.

Videos were playing on the big screens and when President Clinton appeared, the crowd cheered. There was a flag ceremony and when the president arrived, it was standing room only. He is so like a rock star. They played "Here Comes The Chief." The National Anthem was done by a woman who did an excellent job especially when she hit the note for “free” there were many applause.

Since the teleprompter was in the way of the faces at the podium, we had to shoot video of the big screen at times.

Provost Theresa Sullivan welcomed all. Former University of Michigan President James J. Duderstadt gave the message of hope, the power of hope. The committee, students and staff picked Alex Marston to address the graduating class. He said that his grandparents met in 1940 at Angell Hall. He is a third generation U of M student. He has a B.A. in English with a sub major concentration on Creative Writing. His message was about change. He wants his fellow students to embrace change. The 13th President of the U of M, Mary Sue Coleman, got up and said that this class was so exceptional that they wanted to show it off to the president.

She welcomed President Obama to the Big House. She said: "For today, good bye, for tomorrow, good luck and forever, Go Blue." Then, she introduced Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is on the short list of Supreme Court nominees. She thanked the president for his help with the auto industry when it was failing, for helping our Michigan economy, for federal grants for better electric vehicle research in Michigan.

President Obama was given the Honary Degree of Doctor of Laws. He was also given a standing ovation.

When the President asked the crowd to please be seated, an audience member shouted, "We love you!" Mr. Obama said I love you back. “It is great to be here in the Big House” (applause) and so may I say “Go Blue!” (applause) I thought I’d go for the cheap applause line to start things off.

His speech ran over 30 minutes and he said he liked being outside of the clamor of politics. He said the noise can drown out the voices of the people who sent him there so each night he read 10 letters sent by ordinary Americans to remind himself of why he ran in the first place. His favorite one was one from a kindergartner who asked “Are people being nice?” You would think by watching the news with all of the name calling we are not. Changes cause some tension in the body of politics.

They make people worry about the future and sometimes they get people riled up. President Obama pointed out things in the past that was cause for some concern, but through history it all works out for the better of all mankind. He got another "We love you" from the crowd.

A job in politics is not for the thin-skinned or the faint of heart. He reminded people to remember our history, things in the past that got
people all rilled up.

He asked the class of 2010 “how will you keep our democracy going?” Government needs to keep pace with the times. People who oppose governments efforts were reminded of the roads they drove in on were built by who, the government. He went on to say “because in an era of iPods and Tivo, where we have more choices than ever before, even though I can’t really work a lot of these things (laughter) but I have 23 year olds who do it for me, government shouldn’t try to dictate your lives” but it should give you the tools you need to succeed.

Now the second way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic civility in our public debate. We can’t expect to solver our problems if all we do is tear one another down. He suggested that we “treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.” President Obama suggested that we try to understand where the people who disagree with us are coming from. Turn on the opposing view listen try to see things their way. He pretty much asked that we all open our minds to change. You’ll learn what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes and in the process you will help make this democracy work.

Which brought him to the last ingredient in a functioning democracy, participation. This doesn’t mean you have to run for public office, pay attention and contribute in any way that you can.

What is certain what has always been certain is the ability to shape our destiny he went on to say that is what makes us different. That is what sets up apart. That is what makes us Americans, our ability at the end of the day to look past all of our differences and all of our disagreements and still forget a common future. That task is now in your hands, as is the answer to the question posted at the university half a century ago about whether a free society can still compete.

Congratulations on your graduation, 2010. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. The crowd was asked to stay seated until Secret Service gave the ok that the President had left the area, helicopters flew overhead, he was in one of them. President Obama also swore in the ROTC graduates of the U of M’s program.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

President Obama received an honorary degree of laws from the University of Michigan.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

U of M President Mary Sue Coleman confers the honorary degree to Obama.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

Students are now officially graduates of the University of Michigan.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

Graduates are taking photos of their friends at the ceremony.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm addresses soon-to-be graduates.

 

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