It is my great honor to join all of you tonight at Lane Stadium.
The presence of loved ones and the great sense of satisfaction at having completed a rewarding journey will likely stand out in far greater relief.
But tonight I hope to be able to offer a few brief simple truths for your consideration as you go into an increasingly complex world.
Here are four:
1) Life is precious and it passes by too quickly. Plan ahead, but live each day to the fullest
2) You should use your unique God-given talents to serve one another, as that is the true measure by which our lives will be judged. Follow the Golden Rule
3) This is a great state and nation, led by good people, who work together daily to get things done. Our future success depends on your future involvement.
4) If you work hard, be honest, dream big, and pursue opportunity you can truly achieve anything you want in the United States of America.
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#2: Serve one another
A few weeks ago I welcomed a brave young man to the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.
His name was Heath Calhoun.
Heath graduated from Grundy High School, not too far from here.
He followed in his family’s tradition and joined the Army, eventually shipping off with the 101st Airborne to serve in Iraq. While on patrol
Heath’s Humvee was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. He lost both his legs below the knee.
What followed for Heath were months of rehabilitation and recovery, and the prospect of a lifetime in a wheelchair.
But Heath chose a different path. He taught himself how to mono-ski, became a spokesman for wounded veterans, and through sheer will he got out of the wheelchair to compete in multiple sports using prosthetic legs, winning silver medals in two recent track events.
This year marked the first time a NASCAR race has been named after an individual. The “Heath Calhoun 400” ran in Richmond the first weekend in May in recognition of Heath’s tenacity, perseverance and example.
Two days before the race, Heath told me, “I was proud to go to Iraq and I gave my best for my country. That is what is expected of Americans.”
Right now, all across Virginia, people are giving their best for their fellow man.
They are using their precious time to do great things for others.
Every day, hundreds of people go to their local Food Bank to volunteer.
Thousands of police officers patrol neighborhoods, protecting others.
Many work in jails, others get involved in their church or synagogue or mosque, a good number join the military, some teach.
Serving others is the highest calling we have in this society. The Scriptures say that the greatest among you is the servant of all. Be great. Serve others.
It is those countless acts of sacrifice and service that are the hallmarks of American greatness.