Wednesday, May 13, 2009

President Obama & Notre Dame

This week I am home enjoying a week's vacation before I head out west for the summer (details to follow). With no real adventures to post I thought I would turn my attention to President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame's commencement this weekend.

As many of you may have heard President Obama will receive a honorary degree this weekend at Notre Dame and serve as its commencement speaker. The choice of the President has provoked quite the firestorm because of his extreme position on abortion. Tonight I was watching the news and Elizabeth Hassalbeck, from what could be the worst television show of all time- "the View," was asked her thoughts on the matter. She said that if she had worked hard for four years at Notre Dame, she would be darned if the President was going to ruin her graduation. Adding that students should not skip their graduation, but instead find another way to protest. I could not agree with her more. I am saddened that Notre Dame has chosen to honor President Obama in such a manner. I am constantly getting emails from the Alumni office clarifying their position and stressing the importance of dialoguing with world leaders. On this point I think they are right, I just wish that they instead invited him to address their graduates without bestowing an honorary degree. I can't help but think that if we had a President who had extreme views on another issue such as immigration, or one who was racist, that they would never (rightfully so) give him the same honor.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the end. Anyway you look at it, I am incredibly saddened that Father Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, has chosen to bring such controversy to an otherwise joyous day, not to mention the division he has brought to the University's Alumni. In the end my own humble opinion is that we hear too much from the politicians anyway! Why not honor someone who has given themselves fully to the service of others? I can think of so many worthy people in the world. President or not, Republican or Democrat, I just wish colleges stopped choosing politicians, celebrities and big donors to address their graduates and instead picked every day people. How cool would it be to see a mom give a graduation address, a teacher, a social worker or someone from Doctors without Borders. I for one have had enough with celebrities and wish we would start to honor the everyday heroes in life.


Alexa said...

I couldn't agree more Mr. Nelson! It would be totally awesome to see everyday people giving commencement speeches. I feel like politicians only do it for the publicity. It is just not right.

Anonymous said...

Well said. How about a wounded soldier, a police officer, a parish priest, etc. Someone who lives a normal life and to whom a graduate can relate. How can a graduate really relate to Oprah talking about how cool it is to have big houses and a private jet. My school had a car dealership owner give the commencement speech, and for one reason only, he was rich and subsequently gave a donation to the school. Kind of embarrassing.

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