In late May we posted an invitation to hear President Bill Clinton at Ohio State University as well as the latest information from Ohio. We received this report on the speech from a reader:
“Wearing my pink “Hillary Is 44” button, and armed with an umbrella, carrots and trail mix, I set out on a gorgeous sunny 80 degree day to high adventure. My newly acquired handicapped parking card proved invaluable in dealing with the 50,000 people crowding into the football stadium. Fortunately, I was then able to find the very best seat in the entire football stadium, directly behind the press, and next to the OSU graduates and faculty.
Naturally, right away I was telling folks about this wonderful Hillary website – www.HillaryIs44.org – and how I had come to see and hear Bill Clinton, our last elected President. This got the attention of Brittany Westbrook, reporter from 10 TV, who called her camera man and wanted an interview, which I was only too happy to give. Before it was all over, I got to sit with the press on the very front row, and was even notified when and where Clinton would appear.
When he came out with the dignitaries, about 100 feet away, the stadium erupted in a rolling roar, and most rose to their feet. Clinton graciously waved several times as the procession made its way to the stage.
Shortly before 1 p.m., the Ohio State Band had started playing, and this kept up for the 45 minutes that it took nearly 7500 graduates, plus faculty, to march in from two ends of the stadium, come the length of the field, and take their places in the reserved seats behind where we were sitting. Then an enormous flag was raised; the Star Spangled Banner was played; there was an Invocation; and all the numerous dignitaries were introduced, including John Glenn, who also got a huge response from the crowd.
Five honorary degrees and two distinguished service awards followed. Bill Clinton received a Doctor of Public Service degree with a diploma. This is only part of what was read.
“Since 2001, President Clinton has dedicated himself to philanthropy and continued public service through the William J. Clinton Foundation. The foundation is focused on pressing challenges at home and abroad and is committed to practical and measurable solutions to address them. Its initiatives focus on four critical areas: Health security, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS; economic empowerment; leadership development and citizen service; and racial, ethnic, and religious reconciliation.”
The following is only a small part of his introduction as the Speaker for the day.
“Elected President of the United States in 1992, and again in 1996, President Clinton was the first Democratic president to be awarded a second term in six decades. Under his leadership, the United States enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U. S. history. President Clinton’s core values of building community, creating opportunity, and demanding responsibility resulted in unprecedented progress for America, including moving the nation from record deficits to record surpluses; the creation of over 22 million jobs—more than any other administration; low levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime; and the highest homeownership and college enrollment rates in history.”
His excellent speech, interspersed with humor, was well received. He emphasized the importance of planning for the future, explaining how Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War (1862), set aside land grants in all the states for educational purposes which led the way for the creation of OSU.
He spoke of the challenges facing the world and the breakthroughs which are so hopeful, but said we can go either was, depending on whether we concentrate on our commonality rather than the minute differences in humanity. He wanted us to find common bonds like bind together OSU football fans.
“We have to see each other because in an interdependent world we really can’t succeed without each other,” said the former President. As an example, he commended some people in the third world country where he sometimes works as responding to a greeting with “I see you”. It is so important that we really see and value people in how we can work together rather than only recognizing the tiny part that divides us. As another example, he talked about how much he enjoys working with past President Bush. They still disagree politically, but concentrate on that much larger part with which they agree.
What is most needed, according to Bill Clinton, is “to create communities locally, nationally and globally that share the opportunity to participate in the responsibility for success and the outcome and have a genuine sense of belonging.”