(The Hill) – President Biden urged University of Delaware graduates to get involved in public life and be a part of the nation’s future during commencement remarks Saturday.
Biden, who graduated from college in the 1960s, said the students were graduating at a “watershed moment.”
“There is a message that I hope you get from me today: this is not the time to be on the sidelines. It is not a hyperbole. I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” Biden told a sea of graduates dressed in blue robes.
“We need all of you to participate in public life and the life of this nation.”
Biden addressed the unique challenges he said the graduating class of 2022 faced, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing mistrust of institutions in the US.
“In the last five years since many of you were in high school, America faced some of its toughest tests. A global pandemic killed a million lives in the United States alone,” Biden said. “And the crisis of faith in institutions, flawed as they may be, serve as the infrastructure for the American experiment.”
“What’s happened in the last four years… he couldn’t have imagined it when he graduated from high school. Campus closures, classes on Zoom, the world turned upside down, but you got through it,” she added.
Biden then recalled his time after college when he joined politics to fight for civil rights and attempted to connect the 1960s period to the struggles America faces today.
Biden then attacked “prominent leaders” who breathe “oxygen under the rock” where hateful ideas lurk, saying he eventually “comes roaring back out.” He then listed a series of events such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia; the Capitol riot of January 6; and the recent shootings this month that left dozens dead, including children.
“Let’s be clear, evil has reached that elementary school classroom in Texas and that grocery store in New York.”
Biden mentioned his upcoming trip to Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday to meet with parents and families affected by the shooting, saying “as I speak, those parents are literally preparing to bury their children.”
“We can’t ban tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
Earlier this month, a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The supermarket was located in a predominantly black neighborhood, and the suspect is believed to be espousing racist conspiracy theories.
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, with military-grade weapons, killing 19 children and two teachers.
Despite the tragedy, Biden told the graduating class that they will define America’s future and can make a brighter path for the nation.
“I am calling on all Americans right now to come together and make your voices heard and work together to make this nation what it can and should be,” Biden said.
“Your generation makes me more optimistic. I have said it many times… your generation is the most generous, the most tolerant, the least prejudiced, the best educated this nation has ever known and that is a simple fact.”