Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bob McDonnell Gives Commencement Address at National College

Bob McDonnell fresh from his nomination Saturday as Republican candidate for governor was National College’s commencement speaker at the Salem Civic Center Sunday afternoon.

Director Lew Bishop introduced “candidate and friend” McDonnell and espoused the reasons McDonnell was selected to give the commencement address. “Bob McDonnell sets a prime example for you,” said Bishop and he “hoped many of you will serve your community by running for public office.” Bishop then recognized his wife Dr. Rita Bishop, Roanoke City Public School Administrator. He also recognized special guest Adam Boitnott, Roanoke City Republican Chair and Republican primary candidate for the 17th District, Josh Johnson. Director Bishop gave accolades to both McDonnell and Johnson saying we need men like them in Richmond.

McDonnell urged graduates to “donate part of their salary to help the homeless or some other charity.” He asked the graduates to consider serving in the military and then asked all who had served to stand. They received resounding applause. “The reason you are free to study as you do today is because others have sacrificed,” said McDonnell. Borrowing from one of Dr. Rita Bishop’s famous lines he said he tells his kids that life is 10% aptitude and 90% attitude. McDonnell told the graduates it was kind, selfless acts of charity and benevolence that accounted for the greatness of the country. He charged the graduates to remember that what they did with their degrees will reflect on the kind of nation we will have for generations to come.

Sonja Cole, 56, received National College’s Achievement Award. Cole took care of an ailing mother, suffered through the severe wounding of a son, the death of her father, caring for a handicapped daughter, and holding down 2 to 3 part-time jobs. Bishop said Cole “truly epitomizes the spirit of National College’s Achievement Award.”

During the introduction by Director Bishop of Bob McDonnell there were moans behind me so I asked several throughout the audience what they thought of the choice for commencement speaker. All that I spoke to were none too pleased with Bishop’s choice. They wondered why politics was a part of the ceremony. It was essentially an endorsement of McDonnell and Johnson, said the sister of one of the graduates.

Those attending the commencement were after all a “captive audience.” One woman said that a professor or someone other then a candidate for office should have given the commencement address. When you think of the choice the parents, siblings, and friends had – they could not disappoint their graduate so they did not make a fuss.

>The selection of McDonnell and the acknowledgment of Boitnott and Johnson as “special guests” were “inappropriate and inconsiderate” said a neighbor I encountered who was there to see his sister graduate.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, Election 2009, Local Events, Politics, State Politics

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