Today’s message is especially for all the graduates of the Class of 2013.
I hope you remember your graduation day well, because your world will never be the same.
The future that you will dare to build is only limited by the size and scope of your dreams.
Life is about to test you as never before.
Your generation will be asked to protect our nation against all manner of threats.
You will be challenged to close the huge disparities in healthcare, education, jobs, housing and economic empowerment that still persist in this country.
You will become the owners of a new America that is more diverse, more complicated and more connected to the rest of the world.
And with all of that…you are also the first generation of young Americans who will be asked to make the promises enshrined in the constitution finally ring true for every citizen…regardless of who they are, where they came from, what they believe, or who they love.
That is a test of real equality that you must not fail.
I am challenging you to become more than just the best in your chosen profession.
I’m also asking you to excel as fully engaged citizens.
That is absolutely vital to your own success, and to the success of our nation.
Active citizenship compels you to register to vote on your eighteen birthday.
Active citizenship causes us to respond with comfort, strength and support when disaster strikes our neighbors.
And it is active citizenship from young people like you that we need to help make America as good as the people who live here.
I want to ask you to do two hard tasks, to participate and to persevere.
Class of 2013,
If you participate, you have the power to make sure that our democracy lives up to its promises.
And that will require you to take the higher road and the harder path.
But I promise you that the long journey will be worth it.
The fundamental choice which I am asking you to make is exactly the same challenge that President Kennedy laid out in his inaugural address.
It’s the same idea that Dr. King spoke of when he asked young Americans to embrace “The fierce urgency of now!”
And that brings me to the second hard task I will ask of you, I’m asking you to persevere.
Because achieving your dreams will not be easy.
You will fall down.
You will fail.
You will encounter many naysayers along the way.
But if you get up and keep going, you will emerge stronger, and even more determined to become the amazing people you are destined to be.
Perseverance is not only required to achieve your personal goals.
It is absolutely essential to building the kind of country you and your future children deserve to live in.
I’m talking about an America that offers equality under the law for every person.
I’m talking about an America that confronts climate change and makes renewable energy a reality.
I’m talking about an America that fully embraces healthcare for all.
Not just as a new law…but as a human right.
That’s what I expect of you.
And if we stand together…all of that is achievable.
Because in America…great things are always possible.
So when you face hardship,
When you are confronted with the worst of life, remember what Dr. King said…
“We shall overcome, because the arc of the moral universe is long…but it bends towards justice.”
That was true when he said it in 1963…and it’s still true today.
I have no doubt that when your turn comes to make a difference…
You will participate, you will persevere…and you will achieve great things.
Congratulations to all of you!