Former Congressman Sestak speaks of restoring American dream to Bridgewater grads

As Bridgewater College’s graduating seniors and their families celebrated on the campus Sunday, former Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph A. “Joe” Sestak urged the 326 graduates to resuscitate a faltering American Dream by restoring trust in leaders and institutions, standing on the values of accountability and providing principled leadership.

Sestak, a 31-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who attained the rank of three-star admiral, was the highest ranking military officer ever elected to Congress. After his election in 2006, Sestak became a member of the Armed Services and Education & Labor committees and served as vice chairman of the Small Business Committee.

He had 10 pieces of legislation signed into law and, in his first term, was named the most productive member of his freshman class by the majority leader’s office. Sestak served from 2007-2011.

“You must restore trust in our leaders and institutions if you are to overcome the challenges we face as a country and restore the American Dream for your children,” he told Bridgewater’s graduating class. “It begins with the sense of community we spoke about, but it requires the strength of individuals to stand – often alone – against leadership that no longer serves the community.”

Sestak noted that the trust of Americans has been devastated by fraud and failure in virtually every area of public life. People, he said, have been let down by government and politicians, corporations and titans of business, civic leaders and “experts of all stripes.” The resulting lack of faith in America’s leaders is, he said, understandable, but something that needs to change.

Bridgewater College’s graduating class, he noted, can help do that.

“We frankly need your principled leadership in whatever endeavor you embark upon after today,” he said. “We need you to replenish our strength by letting our nation once again build upon its most precious resource – our youth – in a renewed alliance of fair individual opportunity combined with the greater good.”

Earlier in the day, Dr. Carol A. Scheppard, Bridgewater’s vice president and dean for academic affairs, delivered the message at Bridgewater’s baccalaureate service in Nininger Hall. Her topic was, “By What Name Shall This Child Be Called?”



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