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Pelosi Graduation Remarks at Johns Hopkins University Commencement

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the graduation speech for undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University today in Baltimore. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared.

“Thank you, Dr. Wendland, for that kind introduction.

“President Daniels, Dr. Brody, Dean Falk, Dean Jones, faculty and staff, family and friends of the graduates.

“It is a great pleasure to join you in extending: Congratulations to the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2009.

“Let us all join in offering special congratulations to the parents and families, many of whom sacrificed so that their daughters and sons could benefit from a world-class Johns Hopkins education.  Congratulations.

“How proud I am to receive this Johns Hopkins honorary degree.  Thank you so much. 

“On this wonderful day, I am inspired by the aspirations for the future of the Class of 2009 and reminded of the history of this great institution.

“Born out of the generosity of a native son -- Johns Hopkins -- dedicated to seeking knowledge through original research, inspired by its visionary first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, by the way, a former president of University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins is a unique institution. 

“Hopkins was infused from the start with an entrepreneurial spirit.  And with the leadership of Dr. Brody, and now President Daniels, Hopkins clearly continues to attract outstanding students and scholars to this beautiful campus and the extraordinary City of Baltimore.

“Happily for me, Baltimore is where I grew up; it is a place I care about deeply.

“This city is where I first learned the importance of public service from my mother and from my father, who served as Mayor -- an office also held by my brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, who is with us today.

“We are all proud that our grandniece, Elizabeth Ignatowski, graduates today, and that her sister, Ali, is a member of the Class of 2012.

“Growing up, my brothers and I were taught to have a responsibility to the community and to have the courage to fight for our beliefs.

“We were raised devoutly Catholic and deeply patriotic.  Four of my five brothers served in the military.  We turned our values into political action and public service.

“My earliest connection to Hopkins was as a teenager, when my friends and I would come to the Homewood Campus to watch high school lacrosse, and, of course, follow the phenomenal Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.

“While the 2009 season ended too soon, it marked Johns Hopkins' 38th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament -- the longest active streak in the nation.  Congratulations, Blue Jays.

“Baltimoreans take great pride in being the home of Johns Hopkins.  This university and its internationally acclaimed medical center is a crown jewel of a great American city.  And the people of this institution care about the community.

“Hopkins undergraduates on the Homewood campus alone perform more than 60,000 hours of community service each year, training neighborhood organizers, teaching children, and building playgrounds.

“Hopkins' doors have been opened to high-achieving local students through the Baltimore Scholars initiative, the first 15 of whom are graduating with the Class of 2009.  Congratulations, Baltimore Scholars.

“Rooted in that tradition of scholarship and service, the Class of 2009 graduates at a time of enormous challenges and consequential choices, which the Greeks summed up in the word: Ananke.

“In classical Greek, Ananke means destiny.  It also means scarcity.  The Greeks were suggesting that times of scarcity drive us to choose a destiny -- and that these are moments when history can be shaped through deliberate choice.

“Throughout our history, America has confronted and surmounted each moment of ‘Ananke.'  We did so because each generation, at each critical moment, understood the challenge, made a bold choice, and shaped a destiny of its own.

“I believe that the greatest challenge of our day is the global climate crisis and have made it the flagship issue of my Speakership.  Young people on college campuses across America --in the spirit of Ananke -- have understood this challenge, made a bold choice and shaped a new destiny.

“Thanks to your voices, votes, and values, America has awakened to the crisis after years of delay -- and is now moving in a New Direction.

“Global Climate Change is a national security issue, an economic issue, an environmental health issue, and, I believe, a moral issue.

“To ensure our national security, we must end our dependence on foreign oil; to strengthen our economy, we must invest in science and innovation to create clean energy jobs here at home and new green technologies to compete internationally; to protect environmental health, we must reduce air pollution; and, it is a moral issue, because if you believe as I do that this beautiful planet is God's creation, then we have a moral obligation to preserve it for future generations.

“All four of these missions require a heavy investment in these four words: science, science, science, and science.

“The enormity of the Global Climate Crisis also requires the intellectual resources of the entire Class of 2009.  Each of you brings something unique -- your dreams, your passion, your expertise. 

“You join a cause that brings together: business and government, environmentalists and labor, and scientists and evangelicals.

“We are all in this together.

“Because of your generation's demand for change, a Congressional committee is acting now--as we meet here today -- to cut global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050.  Thank you for your leadership.

“In my time as Speaker, I have discussed the climate crisis with leaders from throughout the world. 

“Most recently this morning, I met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  He urged America to exercise leadership on climate change, respectful of the initiatives taken by President Obama and Congress, so, as he said, we could ‘seal the deal' on climate change at the Earth Summit in Copenhagen later this year.

“I most enjoy discussing the climate crisis with young people and hearing your view of the future.

“The young people I meet with want an end to violence.  Many are concerned about the genocide in Darfur.  You want a more prosperous future.  You want bold action to address global climate change.  And you are not waiting for your leaders to act. 

“You are already engaged in your own dialogues and implementing your own solutions.  And it is happening in real time though technologies that support social networking, which is revolutionary in itself.

“This is in stark contrast to the era in which America was founded.  Then a message could only travel as fast as a horse could run or a ship could sail.  Communication and transportation moved at the same speed. 

“Yet look at what our Founders accomplished then.  Imagine what you can accomplish now.

“Today, the generation that was born when the Internet was born is mastering technology -- using Facebook, Digg, Twitter, and who knows what's next -- to meet your challenges and shape your destiny -- to confront your generation's moment of Ananke.  

“And you are bringing to this virtual community the same values of service, citizenship, and social responsibility that you brought to this campus and to this city.

“My message to you today is this: ‘Know your power and follow your passion.'

•        The power and passion that spring from the beauty of your dreams,
•        The depth of your imagination,
•        And the strength of your values. 

“Realize the promise that you have shown here at Johns Hopkins, and honor your responsibility to the future.

“Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this milestone in your lives.  Thank you for this magnificent honorary degree, which I will always treasure.

“Since I am also receiving a degree today I have a special bond with the Johns Hopkins Class of 2009.  So remember that you have a classmate and a friend in the Speaker's Office.

“Enjoy your day. Congratulations!  And may God bless you all.”