April 02, 2010

A 17-year-old Gave This Speech

In the course of genealogy research, came across a speech one of my ancestor's gave at his graduation. Given eighty years ago, it's timely as today's headlines. Here's an excerpt:
What is to be done? How can this theory of "success at any cost" be combated? Science has done some wonderful things in our time, but science has never yet produced any mechanical device which will change the moral fiber of a nation. Whatever change comes, must come thru the realization by individual men and women that ideals are distinctly worthwhile. And it is of vital importance that our young men of brains and power, our future leaders, understand this truth thoroughly. And where can this best be taught? There is no better place in the world than our own Catholic educational centers. The love of absolute truth, the appreciation of other than mere material gain, the fearlessness of strong convictions are in the very atmosphere of our schools. Most readily within their bounds, high standards become usual, ideals, but commonplace. The Catholic colleges and schools have always been the teacher of those ideals, which are so essentially connected with a nation's greatness. Herein lies the noblest function and the fairest promise.

May our Catholic high schools and colleges continue in the future as they have in the past to train our youth to know high standards and to live up to them, to hate a cowardly compromise and despise a lie so that the term "Catholic education" will always stand for high ideals, for fighters who prove that material success is not the supreme deity amongst we Americans, that the pocketbook is not the symbol of national devotion, nor the dollar mark the seal of our greatness.

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