I talked earlier about the selfishness and irresponsibility on Wall Street and Washington that rippled out and led to so many of the problems that we face today. I talked about the focus on outward markers of success that can help lead us astray.
But here's the thing, Class of 2009—it works the other way, too.
Acts of sacrifice and decency, without regard to what's in it for you, that also creates ripple effects, ones that lift up families and communities, that spread opportunity and boost our economy, that reach folks in the forgotten corners of the world, who when committed young people like you see the true face of America, our strength, our goodness, our diversity, our enduring power, our ideals.
I know starting your careers in troubled times is a challenge, but it is also a privilege,because it's moments like these that force us to try harder and dig deeper, and to discover gifts we never knew we had, to find the greatness that lies within each of us.
So, don't ever shy away from that endeavor. Don't stop adding to your body of work. I can promise that you will be the better for that continued effort, as will this nation that we all love.
Congratulations, Class of 2009, on your graduation. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.