I am honored today to be admitted to the fellowship of this ancient and distinguished University, and I am pleased to receive in the short space of one or two minutes the honor for which you spend over four years of your lives.
But whether the degree be honorary or earned, it is a proud symbol of this University and this state.
North Carolina has long been identified with enlightened and progressive leaders and people, and I can think of no more important reason for that reputation than this University, which year after year has sent educated men and women who have had recognition of their public responsibilities as well as their private interests. -
It is my hope in a changing world, when untold possibilities lie before North Carolina - and indeed, the entire South and country - that this University will still hew to the old line of the responsibility that its graduates owe to the community at large; that in your time, too, you will be willing to give to the state and country a portion of your lives and all of your knowledge and all of your loyalty. -
But more than that, I hope that you will realize that from the beginning of this country - and especially in North Carolina - there has been a close link between educated men and women and politics and government. And also remember that our nation's first great leaders were also our first great scholars. -
I would urge you, therefore, regardless of your specialty and regardless of your chosen field of occupation and regardless of whether you bear office or not, (to) recognize the contribution which you can make as educated men and women to intellectual and political leadership in these difficult days, when the problems are infinitely more complicated and come with increasing speed (and) with increasing significance in our lives than they were a century ago, when so many gifted men dominated our political life. - Even experts find themselves confused, and therefore in a free society such as this, where the people must make educated judgments, they depend upon those of you who have had the advantage of the scholar's education. -
This is a great institution, with a great tradition and with devoted alumni and with the support of the people of this state. Its establishment and continued functioning, like that of all great universities, has required great sacrifices by the people of North Carolina.
I cannot believe that all of this is undertaken merely to give this school's graduates an economic advantage in the life struggle.
"A university," said professor Woodrow Wilson, "should be an organ of memory for the state, for the transmission of its best traditions."
And Prince Bismarck was even more specific: "One-third of the students of German universities," he once stated, "broke down from overwork. Another third broke down from dissipation. And the other third ruled Germany."
I leave it to each of you to decide in which category you will fit. -
Peace and freedom do not come cheap, and we are destined - all of us here today - to live out most, if not all, our lives in uncertainty and challenge and peril.
Our policy must therefore blend whatever degree of firmness and flexibility is necessary to protect our vital interests - by peaceful means if possible, by resolute action if necessary.
There is, of course, no place in America where reason and firmness are more clearly pointed out than here in North Carolina. -
We shall be neither red nor dead, but alive and free! And worthy of the traditions and responsibilities of North Carolina and the United States of America.
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