The first roar in the Joyce Center at the University of Notre Dame today set a tone. If you were watching our live coverage starting at 2 p.m. Eastern today, you know what I mean.
During the commencement ceremony for Notre Dame’s class of 2009, expectations were high. High that someone or many would audibly or silently express discontent with the invited guest speaker, the President of the United States Barack Obama. After all, three weeks of staged protests near and on the South Bend, Indiana, campus preceded to this day.
So when the 6’2" robed president strode into the building and that roar I spoke of filled the room, it wasn’t immediately clear to me, from our Atlanta-based news set, what the sound meant. Not until the live cameras revealed a crowd on their feet, clapping, people smiling. Hmm, maybe all the pre-commencement protest is just that, pre-commencement.
Not so fast.
The president had barely received his honorary law degree and was just minutes into his speech as the keynote, when again, big sounds filled the room. Aha, sounds like a voice of dissent. But in a room of thrilled grads and their equally thrilled loved ones, a different but equally overwhelming roar attempted to quiet, but not necessarily silence, that apparent voice of dissension.
Regardless of the conflicting views held by any of the analysts I interviewed, the grads, their loved ones, the U.S. President or the University President...THE TONE of this commencement was made clear.
2009 grads WOULD still have their moment. Despite any dissension, disagreement or disruptions, this WOULD be a memorable day.
Click the picture to view the President's entire speech at Notre Dame.