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Hail to the Chief. . .
September 8, 2009 - Joselyn King
Just what have we come to in America when Americans would want to keep school children from hearing a speech -- given by the U.S. president -- about taking responsibility and achieving something with their lives?
It shouldn't matter who the president is. That person is the president of the United States of America, and it is the responsibility (yes, the responsibility) of every citizen in the country to know what that person has to say.
The citizen can decide for themselves whether they agree.
What better place to enforce that tenant than at school, if that student hasn't already learned about civic responsibility at home.
And, yes, maybe something will click with some students as they watch and they won't agree with what their president has to say. "That is why it is called a Democracy," the teacher can tell them.
As for those high school seniors who are 18 or about to turn voting age, sounds like a good time to hand them a voter's registration application.
A quick glance at the remarks President Barack Obama is to present at noon Tuesday to the nation's youth indicates that he really isn't likely to say anything with which any reasonable person might disagree.
He uses the word "responsibility" at least seven times during what seems to be a short speech.(Goodness, we certainly wouldn't want school children to hear anything about taking responsibility for themselves, would we?)
Obama goes on to tell children that they can succeed regardless of what barriers they might face in life, and that they have to try.
"So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be?" he will ask them. "What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
"Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it."
If anything, Obama steals a little from President John F. Kennedy in paraphrasing, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."
The sentiment wasn't controversial in 1961. Why should it be today?
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