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Heard on the Hill: What Senators Tell Graduates

It’s commencement time again! We’ve rounded up a few quotes from recent graduation speeches:

“You may not achieve your boldest aspiration on the first or second try … but being willing to try — and even to fail — and then to pick yourself up, wipe off the dust and get right back in the game? That’s what’s great about America.”

— Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), College of William & Mary’s Marshall-Wythe Law School

“In America, there is no outside force that can destroy us. The only way our country can be defeated is if America loses its unity. If too many think of freedom in terms of their own self-interest, rather than the interest of preserving a unified purpose, then, and only then, would we fall from within.”

— Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), University of Texas

“Now, don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a speech about how failure is a better teacher than success. Failure sucks. But the thing about success is that it doesn’t always come the way you think it will. In fact, ‘success’ doesn’t always even end up meaning the same thing you thought it would when you started out.”

— Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences

“We can spend our time criticizing everything that is wrong with society or our government. Or we can follow the example of Alex Haley, who acknowledged our country’s shortcomings and experienced racism firsthand, but who would not join with those who were constantly finding fault with America. He constantly sought what was good and praised it.”

— Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), University of Maine