We need the courage of the young

With a little license for condensing, consider the following:

“President Jacobs, members and friends of Oglethorpe University, and especially you, my fellow members of the class of 1932.”

Yes, you read that right, the class of 1932 and these words were spoken by one of the graduates of that class, albeit an honorary one that day, May 22, 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The class with which FDR graduated had begun school four years before, in the fall of 1928.

“Four years ago, if you heard and believed the tidings of the time, you could expect to take your place in a society well supplied with material things and you could look forward to the not too distant time when you would be living in your own homes, each, if you believed the politicians, with a two-car garage, and, without great effort, would be providing yourselves and your families with all the necessities and amenities of life.

Much has been written about the hope of youth. I prefer to emphasize another quality. I hope that you have spent four years in an institution whose fundamental purpose is to train you to pursue truths relentlessly and to look at them courageously and to face the world before you with greater clarity of vision than many of your elders.

You have been struck by the tragic irony of our economic situation today. We have an abundance of raw materials, an ample supply of manufacturing equipment, all the transportation and commercial facilities we need, yet millions of able-bodied men and women in dire need are clamoring for the opportunity to work. I believe we are at the threshold of a fundamental change in the popular economic thought, that in the future we are going to think less about the producer and more about the consumer. We cannot endure for long unless we can bring about a wiser, more equitable distribution of the national income.

We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world you will find before you.”

That’s from 80 years ago. All I can say is, Amen.

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6 Responses to We need the courage of the young

  1. Ginger says:

    Hi Larry,

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing. How prophetic!!!


  2. Lyssa B says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am actually doing my rhetorical analysis for Rosenthal on this speech and wish more of my fellow OU students would take this to heart. We are always told “YOU are the future.” and yet, so many young adults don’t take this to heart. We need to be the ones to make changes and set the stage for the future with our actions today.

  3. Love this post because it shows how things sometimes always seem overwhelming .. and as I travel through the developing world and sometimes feel as if it’s just too much, I think — hey, my dad grew up with no running water, a total lack of confidence in education, and on a tenant farm. So .. things can change quickly and all for the good – but it takes education, drive and will.

  4. Amanda Ciaccio says:

    so interesting!

  5. Ember says:

    I remember reading this speech as part of an exhibit at the OU Museum. The relevance to my own times was eerie but the inspirational message was much needed. Trust me when I say that, from where I’m sitting, the world is absolutely being remade!

  6. Pingback: Today Marks 80th Anniversary of FDR’s Commencement Speech at Oglethorpe :: Oglethorpe University Stories

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