Ridge urges public service for UM grads

May 21, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- In a speech peppered with references to 9/11 and the war on terror, Tom Ridge, the U.S. secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, urged graduates of the University of Maryland last night to enter a life of public service.

Addressing several thousand students at commencement exercises at the Comcast Center, Ridge said public service does not necessarily mean working for the government. "In this day and age, work worth doing can mean that you are contributing in ways that say `Let's roll' or `Play ball.' Ways that move your country ahead economically, socially and culturally," he said.

More than 6,200 students are getting degrees -- graduate and undergraduate -- from the university this year.

Much of Ridge's speech focused on the federal government's response to Sept. 11, 2001, which he defined as "a test unlike any other."

He promised that the government would continue to fight terrorism. "We will meet your threats, in the fullest throttle of response, wherever you seek to hide, wherever you seek to operate, wherever you threaten our families, our friends, our fellow citizens, be it on foreign soil or on our own," he said.

Ridge also said the government would not infringe on its citizens' civil liberties. "We have high expectations of ourselves and a monumental task ahead. We won't cut corners in a rush to security solutions that are contrary to our values," he said.

Several students wrote phrases such as "Stop Bush" atop their graduation caps, but there was no outward demonstration during Ridge's appearance. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Ridge was not awarded an honorary degree, but he received a basketball autographed by Terrapins coach Gary Williams.

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