WEBVTT 00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:13.000 Music 00:00:13.000 --> 00:00:21.000 It is both a privilege and an honor to have Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney as our commencement speaker today. 00:00:21.000 --> 00:00:27.000 Senator Courtney has served the state of Oregon for over four decades. 00:00:27.000 --> 00:00:31.000 the longest legislative career in the state's history. 00:00:31.000 --> 00:00:41.000 In addition to his public service career, he's been dedicated to Western Oregon University where is is retiring after 30 years of service. 00:00:41.000 --> 00:00:49.000 Serving as an assistant to six presidents and teaching communications and freshman experience courses. 00:00:49.000 --> 00:00:58.000 During his time at Western, Senator Courtney also chaired the commencement committee for 20 years. 00:00:58.000 --> 00:00:71.000 Each year he would remind the committee this ceremony which you are participating in today is the most important milestone in your college career. 00:01:11.000 --> 00:01:20.000 Because of his dedication to our students and the state of Oregon, I believe it is very fitting that he is our commencement speaker today. 00:01:20.000 --> 00:01:30.000 Senator Courtney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Master's degree Public Administration from the University of Rhode Island. 00:01:30.000 --> 00:01:39.000 He earned a law degree from Boston University. He and his wife, Margie, live in Salem and have three adult sons, 00:01:39.000 --> 00:01:46.000 two daughter-in laws and one grandson. Senator Courtney, the podium is yours. 00:01:46.000 --> 00:01:53.000 Applause 00:01:53.000 --> 00:01:56.000 00:01:56.000 --> 00:01:68.000 The president forgot to say that I also said the Commencement shouldn't have a Commencement speaker. 00:02:08.000 --> 00:02:13.000 I have very strong feelings about Commencement speakers. 00:02:13.000 --> 00:02:20.000 00:02:20.000 --> 00:02:38.000 00:02:38.000 --> 00:02:56.000 And what they do is they go to the commencement speaker, some individual whose internationally famous, well known and paid a ton of money. 00:02:56.000 --> 00:02:61.000 00:03:01.000 --> 00:03:16.000 If I had my way I would have stopped right after these student speakers and gone right to the degrees being handed out. 00:03:16.000 --> 00:03:21.000 Applause 00:03:21.000 --> 00:03:28.000 I don't know what's worse, to turn 72 this coming Thursday, June 18th 00:03:28.000 --> 00:03:36.000 or have the graduating class that you've been asked to give a commencement speech cheer when they hear you not going to be up here long. 00:03:36.000 --> 00:03:40.000 Laughter 00:03:40.000 --> 00:03:44.000 How do I communicate with you? 00:03:44.000 --> 00:03:55.000 How do I communicate with individuals so far away? They're in a different time zone, way to my left and my right, way up there leaning against the concrete wall. 00:03:55.000 --> 00:03:65.000 Because I'm afraid of heights you're scaring me up there. How do I communicate with you when there's four generations between you and me? 00:04:05.000 --> 00:04:21.000 I'm scared, I am scared. I'm an elective official whose given hundreds and thousands of speeches and this speech scares me to death. 00:04:21.000 --> 00:04:37.000 My biggest fear is that I'll bore you. What do I say? And so do as I say not as I do. 00:04:40.000 --> 00:04:48.000 And when I asked you to let this old man ball from his own personal experiences, I'm not going to quote from some historical figure. 00:04:48.000 --> 00:04:57.000 I'm not going to quote from some famous person, I want to do it from my own personal experience and please be patient with me and allow me to do it. 00:04:57.000 --> 00:04:66.000 And explain something I'd like to offer you but it's not about me you got to believe this, it's about you. 00:05:08.000 --> 00:05:15.000 Don't be afraid, don't be like me. 00:05:15.000 --> 00:05:33.000 If you look, and I'm not a religious man, at the bible and the reason that the Bible fascinates me as a piece of literature is that it's filled with phrases and words that when they express an idea it's magnificent. 00:05:33.000 --> 00:05:53.000 Fear not, be not afraid, do not be afraid, don't be afraid. 300-400 times some or one of those phrases appears in the Bible. 00:05:53.000 --> 00:05:67.000 Years ago, in the hills of westbigot Virginia, in the coal mining areas I was in when I was a teenager I'd go in and sit at the foot of my grandmother's bed. 00:06:08.000 --> 00:06:15.000 My grandmother helped raise me because my mother had Parkinson's disease. She was so sick we had to take care of her. 00:06:15.000 --> 00:06:27.000 And my grandmother with her little rosary beads in her hand, reading her little Reader's Digest, I worshipped her and I'd sit at the end of her bed and say, 'Grandma I'm so scared'. 00:06:28.000 --> 00:06:38.000 I'm so worried and agonized, I don't know if I can do well in the football game. I don't know if I can get the grades to make mom and dad happy, I don't know if anyone will ever like me. 00:06:38.000 --> 00:06:45.000 And my grandmother said to me once and I'll never forget it. 'Peter, oh Peter my grandson, 00:06:45.000 --> 00:06:63.000 worry and fear are like a rocking chair. They'll give you something to do but you don't get anywhere. So Peter go sit in my rocking chair because it's a whole lot better for you. 00:07:04.000 --> 00:07:15.000 I worship her, I miss her, I'd give anything if she could be here today. Don't be afraid to make a decision. 00:07:15.000 --> 00:07:30.000 Do you know how many times in politics the failure to make a decision has lead to disastrous consequences? Don't be afraid to make a decision. 00:07:30.000 --> 00:07:39.000 Even if it ends up wrong, you're not going to get away with that for very long, you cannot waste a moment, don't be afraid to make a decision. 00:07:40.000 --> 00:07:51.000 Don't be afraid to lose, oh this is easy for me to say. I have lost, do not be afraid to lose. Oh it's going to hurt. Oh it's going to hurt. 00:07:52.000 --> 00:07:70.000 Don't be afraid to lose. And to try again and again and again. You got to keep trying. You got to trust me on this, you got to keep trying. 00:08:10.000 --> 00:08:25.000 Don't be afraid to start at the bottom, don't be afraid. And watch this one, it has already been referred to by one of these outstanding students. 00:08:25.000 --> 00:08:39.000 If you don't know what you're doing tomorrow or the next day, I'll bet some of you don't, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. 00:08:40.000 --> 00:08:57.000 And if you have a plan, I'm going to tell you, don't go get scared when it gets loose on you because it will get loose on you. I had a plan, want to hear about my plan? I'll tell you about my plan. 00:08:58.000 --> 00:08:70.000 When I was on the Salem city council I was hot. When I was in the legislature in the 80's I was hot. I had a lot going, I had all the plans. 00:09:10.000 --> 00:09:17.000 I was going to be in local government, state government, federal government, and run for congress. I was hot. 00:09:17.000 --> 00:09:31.000 And then I ran into the May 1984 primary and on that night when the first election results came in I was 10 points down and I never got any closer. I was crushed. 00:09:32.000 --> 00:09:41.000 I had no job, Margie, whose somewhere in the audience, my wife and I had a little boy named Peter, I had no job. 00:09:41.000 --> 00:09:50.000 I got a call from a guy named Myers, said, 'I want you to come work for us. He was the president of Western Oregon State College. 00:09:50.000 --> 00:09:61.000 I would not be here today talking to you if I hadn't lost and had to make a change in the plans. Don't be afraid. 00:10:08.000 --> 00:10:19.000 My older brother is a remarkable person. Something was said about him in the military that I'll never forget, said to my father. 00:10:20.000 --> 00:10:29.000 He was a young lieutenant and they said, it was a senior officer, 'You know what I like about lieutenant Courtney? He makes the best of the hand given to him 00:10:29.000 --> 00:10:43.000 Don't be afraid of the hand that's dealt you. Don't be afraid, fear not. Make the best of it. Make the best of it. 00:10:48.000 --> 00:10:64.000 You know I'm talking too much about fear. But I'll tell you something, this one is really emotional for me. You see all those fans in the stands? I'm going to tell you something. 00:11:04.000 --> 00:11:16.000 They'll always be in your grand stands. If you were not here today, just maybe you hadn't fulfilled all the credits and requirements 00:11:18.000 --> 00:11:31.000 they'll always be in your grand stand because they love you with a powerful love which the likes of can only be described as unconditional love. They're over there, they're over there. 00:11:36.000 --> 00:11:43.000 Don't you be afraid to love like that, even if it hurts, don't be afraid. 00:11:43.000 --> 00:11:54.000 The power of what they feel for you which means they don't love you because they love you because you are. There is no more powerful love. 00:11:54.000 --> 00:11:66.000 Oh I wished I'd known that when my grandmother was still alive. I'd wish I'd known about unconditional love, I never got to say how much I cared about her. 00:12:08.000 --> 00:12:18.000 Well, I'm going to say a couple more things and then be done because you gave me a loud cheer to get back to my seat. 00:12:19.000 --> 00:12:34.000 The hardest thing for me to do is to leave this campus today because I know I'll never come back the same way. The hardest thing for me to do is to leave politics because I'm afraid of retirement. 00:12:36.000 --> 00:12:48.000 You know, there's got to be that time in life where you say I've done all I can do I can't do anymore. I know they got these cool phrases, you got to move on you got to let go. 00:12:48.000 --> 00:12:66.000 I'm too old to know those words. So I'll put it in my words you got to say I've done all I can do, Peter you got to go, you've got to mosey. I can't even get the name right, you got to mosey. 00:13:08.000 --> 00:13:28.000 The last thing, I've been here since about seven o'clock this morning. I was asked to MC the banquet over here that we put on every year to thank the faculty and the staff. 00:13:28.000 --> 00:13:51.000 Because I'm aware that my personality can offend people. That my style can be too flamboyant that I frolic too much, 00:13:52.000 --> 00:13:67.000 I was scared to be me. I wasn't me this morning. And then I went to an event about naming a building after me, I didn't know what to do. I still wasn't me. 00:14:08.000 --> 00:14:24.000 Years ago my dad said something to me. Dad I don't know what I'm going to do. He said, 'Peter just be Peter'. 00:14:24.000 --> 00:14:43.000 A month later he was gone. When I visit his grave in the plains of Rhode Island, as I walk from the car to find his stone all I think about are those words, just be you. Be you. 00:14:47.000 --> 00:14:54.000 You're going to get hit, you're going to get criticized you're going to doubt who you are and what you are. 00:14:55.000 --> 00:14:61.000 I remember I used to teach speech here and I'd sometimes get a student who'd come up and say, 'I want to give a speech like you Professor Courtney'. 00:15:01.000 --> 00:15:08.000 No no no no, you don't want to speak like me, you want to speak like you. 00:15:08.000 --> 00:15:19.000 Popei the Sailor, famous cartoonist once said, 'I am what I am, that's all I am. Well, Popei you had it right. 00:15:20.000 --> 00:15:40.000 And so, students, graduates, loved ones, be not afraid, be not afraid, you got here didn't you? And tomorrow you'll get there too. You and them. Because you're together on this. 00:15:40.000 --> 00:15:56.000 And if at some time that fear, that anxiety and that worry is overwhelming you, just remember, 00:15:56.000 --> 00:15:64.000 maybe you can find a rocking chair it would be a whole lot better for you. Be not afraid graduates, be not afraid. 00:16:04.000 --> 00:16:21.000 Applause