Bill Clinton’s Speech to the Harvard Class of 2007

Bill Clinton gives moving remarks to the class of 2007, and to the rest of us.  This is why he was once elected President … brings me back.  (Here’s a Video)

An Excerpt:

After George Bush and I did the tsunami, we got so into this disaster work that Kofi Annan asked him to oversee the UN’s efforts in Pakistan after the earthquake, which you acknowledged today, and asked me to stay on as the tsunami coordinator for two years. So on my next to last trip to Aceh in Indonesia, the by far the hardest hit place, a quarter of a million people killed. I went to one of these refugee camps where in the sweltering heat, several thousand people were still living in tents. Highly uncomfortable. And my job was to go there and basically listen to them complain and figure out what to do about it, and how to get them out of there more quickly. So every one of these camps elected a camp leader and when I appeared, I was introduced to my young interpreter, a young Indonesian woman, and to the guy who was the camp leader, and his wife and his son. And they smiled, said hello, and then I looked down at this little boy, and I literally could not breathe. I think he’s the most beautiful child I ever saw. And I said to my young interpreter, I said, I believe that’s the most beautiful boy I ever saw in my life. She said, yes, he’s very beautiful and before the tsunami he had nine brothers and sisters. And now they’re all gone.

So the wife and the son excused themselves. And the father who had lost his nine children proceeded to take me on a two-hour tour of this camp. He had a smile on his face. He never talked about anything but what the people in that camp needed. He gave no hint of what had happened to him and the grief that he bore. We get to the end of the tour. It’s the health clinic in the camp. I look up and there is his wife, a mother who had lost nine of her 10 children, holding a little bitty baby less than a week old, the newest born baby in the camp. And she told me, I’m going to get in trouble for telling this. She told me that in Indonesian culture, when a woman has a baby, she gets to go to bed for 40 days and everyone waits on her hand and foot. [LAUGHTER] She doesn’t get up, nothing happens. And then on the 40th day, the mother gets up out of bed, goes back to work doing her life and they name the baby. So this child was less than a week old. So this mother who had lost her nine children is here holding this baby. And she says to me, this is our newest born baby. And we want you to name him. Little boy. So I looked at her and I said through my interpreter, I said, do you have a name for new beginning? And she explained and the woman said something back and the interpreter said yes, luckily for you, in Indonesian the word for dawn is a boy’s name. And the mother just said to me, we will call this child Dawn and he will symbolize our new beginning. You shouldn’t have to meet people that lose nine of their 10 children, cherish the one they got left, and name a newborn baby Dawn to realize that what we have in common is more important than what divides us. [APPLAUSE]

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