It was hot! It was a long, boring 4 hour wait from the time we got into Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University until Commencement 2009 began. It wasn’t too much of a hassle getting there in the car, by light rail, and walking (getting through Security took all of 3 minutes) but it was sort of a hassle getting out of there, especially when you’re fried after a long day. Was it worth it? Yes!!!!!!!!!
It was exciting, awe-inspiring, other words I can’t think of. Just to be in the same space (extended space, of course, since we were nowhere near him) with President Obama was a stirring experience. His speech was tailored to the controversy at ASU over not receiving an honorary degree. He was gracious and funny about that but it led to the main points of his address to the graduates…”what building a body of work is all about–it’s about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up to a lasting legacy. It’s about not being satisfied with the latest achievement, the latest gold star–because one thing I know about a body of work is that it’s never finished. It’s cumulative; it deepens and expands with each day that you give your best, and give back, and contribute to the life of this nation. You may have set-backs, and you may have failures, but you’re not done–not by a longshot.”
The President also said, “I’m talking about an approach to life–a quality of mind and heart. A willingness to follow your passions, regardless of whether they lead to fortune and fame. A willingness to question conventional wisdom and rethink the old dogmas. A lack of regard for all the traditional markers of status and prestige–and a commitment instead to doing what is meaningful to you, what helps others, what makes a difference in this world.”
Well, I could go on and on…it was wonderful, I didn’t want to leave, and we stayed until the end, until the fireworks were set off on “A” Mountain (photo below of “A” Mountain earlier in the day) and echoed loudly around the stadium. If you missed it and would like a transcript (which I noticed is lacking a few extraneous remarks he made), let me know and I’ll email it to you.
Do I regret I didn’t take my DSLR? Not exactly because I already had enough stuff to lug around in the heat and I was worried about the camera getting bashed in a crowd or lost. What I do regret is that the extra batteries I took for my point and shoot were also dead once the batteries in the camera died. So I got zero shots of the President. We mostly watched him on the jumbotron anyway since we were so high up. But I do wish I had gotten a decent photo of Air Force One as it flew directly over Sun Devil Stadium enroute to Sky Harbor at 5:50pm. That was an exciting sight and just the beginning of an inspirational evening…magical, even.