You are part of that horrid expression, the best and the brightest. It can be a terrible burden if you let it be, but it is the great challenge of your time. And being a warrior in that challenge should be wondrous.
We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.
In this era of the global village, the tide of democracy is running. And it will not cease, not in China, not in South Africa, not in any corner of this earth, where the simple idea of democracy and freedom has taken root.
Two hundred years ago, our Founding Fathers gave us a democracy. It was based upon the simple, yet noble, idea that government derives its validity from the consent of the governed.
Don't fear your mortality, because it is this very mortality that gives meaning and depth and poignancy to all the days that will be granted to you.
It was a myth that's often perpetuated at commencement that holds that only hope and promise lie beyond the halls of academe. Don't worry, be happy. Everything is fine.
No one is immune from the larger events of his or her time - the Depression, World War II, civil rights, Vietnam, the spring of 1989 in China. These events intrude upon our lives and radically affect our directions.
From a viable economy to the full funding of Headstart, from a clean environment to true equality for women, from a strong military to a commitment to racial brotherhood, from schools that are honored to streets free of excessive violence.
Seven and half years ago I began my own journey. For me and my family it was a time of adversity. But during that adversity I derived a deeper faith. And born out of that adversity was a commitment to devote myself to those people and to those issues that truly matter to me.
You are Americans. You love this country. Together we are entrusted with the principles that represent mankind's greatest political and social achievement.