Biden gave WFU commencement address in 2009

Wake Forest University holds its 2009 Commencement Exercises on Monday, May 18, 2009. Vice President Joe Biden walks across Hearn Plaza in the procession.

Twelve years ago, Joe Biden was the first sitting Vice President to give Wake Forest University’s commencement address. Biden spoke to the class of 2009 on May 18 on Hearn Plaza.

Biden, who received an honorary doctorate of laws degree following his address, told the graduates to seize the moment and the opportunities before them, not to “restore anything, but to make anew.”

“No graduating class gets to choose the world they graduate into,” he said. “Every class has its own unique challenges. Every class enters a history that up to that point has been written for them. And your generation is no different. But what is different about your generation is the chance that each of you has to take history into your own hands and write it larger.” Biden said it was time for the graduates to step up and lead the older generation. “This is your moment,” he said. “History is yours to bend…. Imagine a country brought together by powerful ideas, not torn apart by petty ideologies. Imagine a country that leads the world by the power of our example, and not by the example of our power.”

Read the full speech or watch the video.

The University has a long history of hosting U.S. Presidents and vice presidents, starting with President Harry S. Truman’s participation in Wake Forest’s groundbreaking ceremony in 1951. Notably, Wait Chapel has been home to two presidential debates in 1988 and 2000.

Categories: Commencement, Speakers, Top Stories