A Job Well Done: Jordan Gruber's Speech

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Well those of you that know me, know I would really rather be out fishing right now. Ok seriously, I feel very blessed and indeed I am very blessed to be standing before you and speaking tonight as your 2009 Valedictorian. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who came to the May 11th School Board meeting with me and signed the petition.
After that meeting as I was going home, I realized something humbling: I realized that everyone was expecting a really amazing and profound speech from me after all that we went through to get one! Then I realized that I would have to miss out on more fishing to prepare a speech. Originally, my plan was to come up here and adlib obviously I have changed plans.

Class of 2009, as I was preparing this speech I was trying to think of all the things we have in common. That is hard when I don’t even know the names of all of you that are graduating. I wish I had had the time to get to know each of you well. As I was reading a speech by Harold Ickes I had an epiphany: I realized that I already know who you are, you are Americans. I don’t need to know every name because I know that you are Americans and that will always be enough. I realized something else though. I realized that it is not as cool as it once was to be an American. In our Grove City culture, it is cool to text in school, to tell you mom jokes, to send bumper stickers on facebook, cheat on warm up laps in gym class, and to keep overdue library books so that your parents do not get your report card, but for some reason in our culture it is simply no longer cool to be an American.
I think that there are two reasons for that. First, being an American is a privilege that has been granted to us, not something earned by us. I thank God that our forefathers thought it worth their lives to make us Americans. This was their dream that we, their children, would be born free and can live free. We were born members of the greatest social experiment of all time: a government of the people by the people and for the people.
Let us live up to our forefathers’ dream.
Secondly, I think that we forget what it means to be Americans. In a speech titled “What is an American”, Harold Ickes describes an American as follows:

What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

The second sentence of the Declaration reads as follows:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


Unfortunately, it is not always easy to be an American. It is not always easy to live up to the greatness for which our forefathers destined us. It is not easy because we are living in dangerous times, the world is turbulent, the economy is unstable, and our futures seem even more uncertain. I would like to read to you some headline topics since 1990, the year that most of us graduating Seniors were born:
The Gulf War
The Oklahoma City Bombing
The Centennial Olympic Park Bombing
The Columbine High School Shooting
Presidents Clintons’ Impeachment Trial and the Lewinsky Scandal
The Bombing of the USS Cole
September 11th Terrorist attacks
Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq
Hurricane Katrina
The Virginia Tech Massacre
And Somalian Pirates

At times like these we are called to fulfill the Harold Ickes definition of an American. We are called to live up to the dream for which patriots have died. We are called to protect justice, freedom, and truth. At times like these, our forefathers called upon their divine Creator for guidance.

Likewise, I find it wise to seek God’s guidance. These past four years, I have looked to Jesus Christ for guidance and already he has led me to this podium today; and He leads me on to the United States Naval Academy. He has blessed me beyond my wildest expectations and in this room I see 200 other seniors who have been equally blessed with incredible and unique talents, gifts, and abilities. I urge you to use your talents for good.

It is a scary time when the Supreme Court is being called upon to decide whether valedictorians should be allowed to refer to their faith during the farewell address. A friend of mine reminded me that the Supreme Court has already declared it legal for students to lead and initiate prayers in school. Therefore, I urge all of you to not forget your liberties. If guidance is what you need then remember that you need not be alone, and you need not pray in secret.

Before I bid my final farewell, I have to share something horrible and sobering with you. It appears in headlines as well, but often it is underestimated or disguised. I am sharing this with you last so that you might remember it first as you leave and begin your lives. Adolf Hitler was a powerful and awful man. A little known quote of his goes as follows: “Tell a lie often enough, loud enough, and long enough, and the people will believe you.” This sort of brainwashing is still just as powerful and active today.

Let me tell you what happened after people believed those false truths. During the six years of Word War II, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of six million Jews. In that same amount of time today, 8.2 million American babies are aborted.

I challenge you to question the supposed truths that you have been fed from textbooks, television, internet, and other media.
I challenge you to seek truth.
I challenge you to give all men, even those unborn, the same inalienable rights to life. And I remind you that the denial of the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been the grounds and justification for wars.
Finally, I ask you: is it justifiable to take those rights from those who do not have the power to defend their rights?

With no further ado, I wish you all the sincerest congratulations. You did it class of 2009. I would like to thank all of you and all of our teachers for truly making high school a rewarding and fun experience. I think that you all have very bright futures.

In the tradition of the Navy, I would like to wish you all fair winds and following seas.

-Jordan Gruber
Grove City Sr. High School Valedictorian 2009

3 comments:

mizme's mommy said...

He did a great job - very well done! I'm going to make certain to reread it when I have more time.

Anonymous said...

wow thanks for posting this Mandy!!! We are sooo proud of him he did a fantastic job!!! Paula

Anonymous said...

I read about this in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and thought it was a great story. I searched the web and found this transcript and I think it is a great speech. I wish I could have seen it. One of my brothers graduated from USNA and the other graduated from West Point. I know Annapolis is an exceptional school full of exceptional students, and I think Jordan will stand out even among that select group. I would like to congratulate him on his accomplishments to date and wish him the best in the future. Best Regards, George