Notre Dame Commencement
Secretary Gates, in his address to Notre Dame graduates, expressed the hope that many of the talented young men and women before him would spend some part of their lives in public service.
Gates sketched some highpoints of Notre Dame’s history of public service: the chaplains who served the Civil War’s famed Irish Brigade; the use of the campus to train World War II naval midshipmen; and the university’s support for ROTC during the war in Vietnam, support that continues to this day with the commissioning of 65 new officers. Gates asked each to “consider taking an active role in the life of this country by committing . . . to spend at least a part of your life in public service.”
Gates noted that the problems facing the country at present—“steep fiscal imbalances and mounting debt . . . [and an] unpredictable international security environment”—may not encourage a career in public life. In times of distress, however, talented and honest public leadership is most needed.