Barack Obama

“This democracy we have is a precious thing. For all the arguments and all the doubts and all the cynicism that’s out there today, we should never forget that as Americans, we enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than citizens in any other nation on Earth. (Applause.) We are free to speak our mind and worship as we please. We are free to choose our leaders, and criticize them if they let us down. We have the chance to get an education, and work hard, and give our children a better life.

None of this came easy. None of this was preordained. The men and women who sat in your chairs 10 years ago and 50 years ago and 100 years ago –- they made America possible through their toil and their endurance and their imagination and their faith. Their success, and America’s success, was never a given. And there is no guarantee that the graduates who will sit in these same seats 10 years from now, or 50 years from now, or 100 years from now, will enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that you do. You, too, will have to strive. You, too, will have to push the boundaries of what seems possible. For the truth is, our nation’s destiny has never been certain.

What is certain -– what has always been certain -– is the ability to shape that destiny. That is what makes us different. That is what sets us 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 forge a common future. That task is now in your hands, as is the answer to the question posed at this university half a century ago about whether a free society can still compete.”


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