Reporter's Note: Our President, Barack Obama, is delivering graduation speeches as politicians often do at this time of year. And yet even while he gives advice to some Americans, he is soliciting suggestions on how the run the country from the rest of us. I tried standing in front of the White House shouting out speeches and that did not work out so well, so I am writing a letter a day.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
You’ve been giving a lot of advice to graduating college seniors lately, and that’s no surprise. Seems like everyone over 30 has some idea that younger people need steering into their adult years, and judging from how some of these kids turn out, no doubt they are right. But it seems like you and the rest of the commencement crowd have that base pretty well covered, so I want to offer here my own ideas for a speech you could give, not to the grads, but to their parents.
Congratulations on getting your son/daughter/other through college. Heaven knows with the cost of higher education these days, you could have scored a new car, taken a big vacation, and put in that home theater you’ve always wanted; but no, you invested in making your offspring smarter and for that the nation thanks you.
Young people are our most precious resource. After oil. And maybe timber. In any event, they matter. The better we prepare them for their careers, the better the food and views will be in the old folks’ homes they stuff us into as the Baby Boomers roar into senility.
Yet as you applaud your son/daughter/other and wish that young person well in his or her career/travels/unemployment/further education (Heaven help us)/or selection of cellmates, remember that you were once young too. And just as you wanted to chart your own course, this young soul has dreams of his/her own.
Maybe you were an accountant, and he/she wants to own a pet shop. Maybe you were a Republican, and he/she wants to be a Democrat (Oh yeah, bring it around town…) Or maybe you were an inside trader, and he/she wants to be a Supreme Court Justice. (If so please hand your resume to any of the jacketed, sunglassed agents hovering around the podium…but don’t move to quickly while you do that.) The point is, young people have a right to their own dreams. The America they want is not necessarily the America you grew up with. (For example, “Flipper” is no longer on the air, and a comeback seems unlikely.)
You have encouraged your children to love their country; now let them do so in their own fashion. You have taught them the values of public service, (although as I have noted several times, apparently not the values of using turn signals and keeping their yaps shut in movie theaters;) now let them serve as they see fit. You have shown them what it means to pursue the American dream; and now, no matter how badly it turned out for you, let them take a run at it.
In short, parents of the Class of 2009, there are many things we do for the future; efforts for which we will personally see little or no return; but they are not wasted. America is a living, breathing, changing experiment in the freedom of mankind, and your children are now full catalysts in that great amalgamation. Every generation fears for the nation under the next; and each generation (so far) has kept the Democracy afloat. And despite the economy, the runaway cynicism of business and politics, and that unfortunate incident with the cat and the shop vac, your child will probably do fine too.”
Anyway, that’s it. I know it’s a bit rough, but if you get a chance to use any of it, give me a call and I’ll alert my mom. She would be so proud.
Find more of the Foreman Letters here.
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