Supreme Court justice speaks at HPU commencement
By Nancy H. McLaughlin
Sunday, May. 4, 2008 3:00 am
HIGH POINT — If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were to package Saturday's commencement speech at High Point University into an inspirational book about learning everything needed for life, he could call it "Those old folks are right."
"Good manners will open doors that nothing else will open," Thomas told graduates seated on the manicured lawn of the private college. More than 600 diplomas were awarded on a morning fraught with sporadic wind bursts heavy enough to upend stacks of printed programs.
Other advice from Thomas: "Remember the rewards of self-indulgence are not nearly as great as the rewards of self-discipline. Remember that life is not easy and probably will not be fair."
"When I was younger and acted as though I knew everything, the older people knew better. ... The older I have gotten, the smarter they have become," said Thomas, who became a jurist of the country's highest court when most of the HPU graduates had not even begun first grade.
"Chief among those who have grown in stature is my grandfather, who seemed small and irrelevant when I sat where you sit," Thomas said of his own graduation day.
"Today, he is the greatest man I've ever known."
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In his remarks, Thomas would go on to describe a life shaped by faith, discipline and the power of positive thinking.
"I was 9 years old when I met my father," Thomas said. "The point is not to complain, but rather to say: Just because it starts a certain way doesn't mean it has to end that way."
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Monday, May 5, 2008
Commencement Speech at High Point University