BOSTON (CBS) – After Thursday’s commentary about some less-than-inspiring local commencement speeches, several people urged me to read last weekend’s commencement speech at Tufts University by Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who has founded The Mission Continues, a group that helps transform wounded and disabled veterans into civic activists and leaders.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
Thank you for that. His speech was far and away the best commencement speech I have ever read, and I want to share portions of it with you as serious food for thought during this weekend of memorials for our military heroes.
Greitens talked about the summer in college when a professor took him to the former Yugoslavia to do volunteer work in the camps where refugees from horrific ethnic cleansing were living:
“I was working with many people who had lost friends and family, and I remember when I went, I was thinking to myself that if I had lost everything they had and that I were in the refugee camp, that I would be very concerned about myself and my own pain and my own hardship and my own difficulty. But what I found in the camp was that oftentimes, the people who were doing the best were oftentimes the parents and grandparents who had really young kids. Because they knew that even in that incredibly difficult situation, they knew that they had to wake up every single day to be strong for someone else.
The people who I saw who were often struggling the most were the people…my age [who] didn’t yet feel like anyone was counting on them. [T]hose who knew that they had a purpose that was larger than themselves, those who knew that others were counting on them, they grew to be stronger.”
And Greitens told the graduates of visiting wounded fellow Iraq war vets back in the States, and hearing them say how much they wanted to return to service.
“They appreciated when people came in to say thank you. But what they also had to hear in addition to thank you was…‘we still need you.’”
This weekend, we’ll honor those who didn’t make it home. But we can also honor those who did by telling them what they need to hear: “We still need you.”
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