Biden to Wake Forest graduates: “You can affect the change”

By Caitlin Taylor

May 18, 2009 1:29pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Vice President Biden told the graduates of Wake Forest University that while they may not be leaving college for a “nation of ease and luxury,” they are entering the real world at a time where they can play a tremendous role in changing the nation for the better. “Doing nothing, or taking history into our own hands and bending it, bending it in service of a better day. So embrace the moment. Don’t shy away from it,” he said. Biden told the graduates that the nation is at a crossroads on the economy, education reform, energy policy and climate change and they can play a role in putting the nation on the right path on these key issues. “Your generation’s opportunities are greater than any generation in modern history — not because you’re about to graduate into a nation of ease and luxury, but because you’re about to graduate into a point in history where everything is going to change no matter what you do, but you can affect the change,” the vice president said. Biden echoed the message of change in recent commencement addresses. “Folks, we’re either going to fundamentally change the course of history, or fail the generations that come after us, because change will occur,” he said. Biden joked to the graduates and their parents about how he told his three children that he would help them pay for their education for any school they could get into. “Well, undergraduate and graduate schools later, for three of them, you know understand why I was listed as the second poorest man in the Congress, literally,” he said. The vice president paid tribute to the late Tim Russert of NBC News, who was slated to be the speaker at today’s commencement address and was awarded a posthumous honorary degree. Biden noted his long friendship with the late newsman and said they shared a similar blue collar upbringing and an early crisis of confidence when they arrived in Washington at a young age, in big positions – Biden as a 30 year old senator, Russert as an aide to Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York. Biden retold a story that Russert wrote about in his book, how the young Senate aide felt overwhelmed at the people surrounding him in his new job – “Rhodes scholars, Marshall scholars, professors, people with Ivy League degrees, people with significant backgrounds,” Biden said. One day Russert went into the senator’s office and told him that he didn’t feel that he belonged and was considering leaving, the vice president said. “And you know what the senator said to him, according to Tim? And it sounds like Pat. He said, ‘Tim, what they know, you can learn. What you know they can never learn. So he stayed,” Biden said. “He changed the nature of the way major events and major figures were covered.  His integrity, his toughness, his fairness was legendary.” –Karen Travers

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