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Monday, May 26, 2008

Obama asks graduates for sacrifice

In an insistent call to public service and a personal tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Senator Barack Obama challenged graduates of Wesleyan University yesterday to "work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all of humanity."

Stepping in for the ailing Kennedy, who was scheduled to deliver the university's commencement address before he was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week, Obama told an audience of several thousand to "be unified in service to a greater good," a cause he described as synonymous with the Kennedy family.

Kennedy, who in January endorsed Obama in a symbolic passing of the political dynasty's progressive mantle, was represented by his wife, Vicki, and his stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, a member of this year's graduating class.

Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said it was an honor to "pinch-hit" for Kennedy, whom he called "one of my personal heroes and a hero to his country."

"Surely if one man can achieve so much and make such a difference in the lives of so many people, then each of us can do our part," Obama said of Massachusetts' senior senator. "Surely if his service and his story can forever shape America's story, then our collective service can shape the destiny of this generation. At the very least, his living example calls us to try."

Under cloudless blue skies before a supportive crowd that punctuated his words with warm applause, Obama recalled his own decision as a college graduate to work for a small group of churches as a neighborhood organizer in Chicago for "$12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car," and how the experience gave him purpose and direction. Students, Obama said, owe it to themselves and those less fortunate to serve the common good.(SPEECH OF THE DAY)

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Posted by Ajay :: 6:00 PM :: 0 comments

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