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Gov. Mark R. Warner encouraged graduates to call home and thank the family members who helped them achieve their goals during Old Dominion University's 101st Commencement Sunday, Dec. 19, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

"Now, I'm not going to give you a lot of advice, but I am going to give you a very important piece of advice--call your mother, and your father and your grandmother. Find that family member and say thank you. Be grateful to them always," Warner said.

Warner extolled the responsibilities that the more than 2,000 graduates faced during this time in their lives. He focused on the importance of conducting political debates in a civil and respectful manner and encouraged the graduates to raise the quality of discourse in America.

"Today, it is an unfortunate reality that public debates have become increasingly shrill," he said. "As a result, our public discussions are too often devoid of serious content. Equally important, more of our people, particularly young people, are alienated, cynical and distrustful of the basic institutions of government."

Warner encouraged the graduates to be respectful of those with whom they disagreed and reminded them that love of country is what binds us together as Americans.

"Yours is a generation that will face unprecedented challenges. They range from the specter of international terrorism to the aging of our population. These questions won't be solved through superficial debates where we just shout at each other," he continued.

He challenged the class of 2004 to reject the negative messages that tend to dominate the media. "Tune out the shouting and background noise that is often mistaken for meaningful information and seek more thoughtful commentary."

Quoting John F. Kennedy, Warner left the graduates with this parting thought. "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

This article was posted on: December 19, 2004

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