Gov. Brian Schweitzer got a bit emotional during his address to graduates at Montana State University- Northern commencement Saturday. He spoke of his four grandparents — all of whom homesteaded in Hill County. His father, Adam, died last year. "He was 89, and he had a good run," the governor told the crowd. "He never finished high school," he said. "That's not something I talk about a lot, but I will today," he said. "The proudest days in his life were when he saw his children, all six of us, graduate from college," Schweitzer said. "All of you who, like me, are the first generation to graduate from college, you are a dream come true for your parents," he said, looking out at the graduates. He asked first-generation graduates to stand and look toward their parents seated in Northern's packed gymnasium. The graduates rose, and the crowd erupted in applause. "Your mothers are crying now," he told the graduates. The governor, born in Havre's old Sacred Heart Hospital, said the lessons he learned on the north-central Montana plains have stayed with him throughout his life. He said that the state is one of two in the nation with a balanced budget because of those lessons. "Forty-eight states are financially upside down," he said. He said he remembered his grandparents advice: To make-do next year, "you have to leave a little grain in the bin." The governor paid tribute to what former NBC newsman Tom Brokaw, who has a ranch in Montana, called the greatest generation. However, Schweitzer added, the generation that accepted President Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon could also be described as the greatest generation. But that title might also apply to the graduates in the audience, who, he said, will be challenged as much as any previous generation. He said the United States is at risk. "We are at risk because we import 70 percent of our oil, most of it from countries that don't share our values," he said, adding that this generation Will have to come up with ways to developing new forms of energy. If they succeed at that task, "we will lead the world for the next 100 years," Schweitzer said. "You will change the health care system more in the next 20 years than in all of human history," he said. Many people will urge the graduates not to leave Montana, he said, but "I will give you different advice." He told the graduates they should see the world, talk to people from different areas and learn from people with different ideas. "When you have learned from them, come back to Montana, " the gove rno r implored. "We need you." Schweitzer's address capped the two-hour long ceremonies that began with the Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard leading the faculty and graduates into the auditorium. Sierra Diehl sang the national anthem and the Lodge Pole Singers performed a traditional Native American chant. Chancellor Frank Trocki singled out retiring Provost Joe Callahan for praise, as he introduced dignitaries. The Golden Graduates, alums from the Class of 1960, were saluted, each called forward during the ceremonies. A total of 309 people graduated from MSU-Northern this school year.
Schweitzer leads emotional graduation
Published: Monday, May 10th, 2010
Click Here To See More Stories Like This