Biden to Grads at Alma Mater: 'No Time to Be on the Sidelines'

President gave commencement speech to Class of '22 at University of Delaware on Saturday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 28, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Biden to Grads at Alma Mater: 'No Time to Be on the Sidelines'
President Biden delivers his keynote address to the University of Delaware's Class of 2022 during its commencement ceremony in Newark, Del., on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden told graduates Saturday at his alma mater, the University of Delaware, that "now it's your hour," as he encouraged young people in the United States to help the country live up to its ideals. Speaking to more than 6,000 graduates, and with the nation mourning victims of two mass shootings in as many weeks, Biden lamented the division in the country he governs. He bemoaned a "crisis of faith" in US institutions, and he pressed graduates to work to bind up the country's wounds. "Your generation, more than anyone else, will have to answer the question, Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe? Who will we be?" Biden said, per the AP. "You can make the difference, you can lift the country up, you can meet the challenges of our time."

Biden told graduates that "democracy makes progress possible. And progress comes when we begin to see each other again not as enemies, but as neighbors." The president said this year's graduates have a head start, representing a generation that "is the most generous, the most tolerant, the least prejudiced, the best educated" in American history. Biden also referred to the recent mass shootings: one in which 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, and one on May 14, when a gunman espousing racist hatred killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY. "Too much violence. Too much fear. Too much grief," Biden said. "Let's be clear: Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died."

The president said that "we cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer." He called on "all Americans at this hour to join hands and make your voices heard, to work together to make this nation what it can and should be." Biden was presented with the university's Medal of Distinction before his remarks. He'd previously received an honorary degree in 2004. Biden, who graduated from the university in 1965 with a double major in history and political science, served as a senator in Delaware for more than 30 years before becoming vice president. It was his fifth commencement address at the university, where the School of Public Policy and Administration bears his name. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, also graduated from the university. "There's one message I hope you take from me today: This is no time to be on the sidelines," he noted.

(Read more President Biden stories.)

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