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The Graduation Speech I Couldn't Give

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"Greetings to all students, faculty, administration, family and friends. I want to begin today by telling you a story about a young girl who seemed to have it all: friends and grades, confidence, religion, and love. Yet, one day this girl looked in the mirror and hated what she saw. Her forehead was too big, her teeth too crooked. She wore big ugly glasses and clothes without expensive labels. Others seemed to ignore her, so she began to realize she wasn't worth their time. In fact, she wasn't worth anything. Many people let her down and she stopped trusting anyone. She gave up and let herself live only to spite others, while trying to gain their respect through ceaseless efforts to be the best at everything. This girl entered high school bitter at the world and its emptiness. She criticized people she didn't know, yet held a façade of confidence and control. One day this girl met some people who tried to show her otherwise, people who shared with her a love she had never felt before. She tried to push that love away, but it only loved her more. She would cry herself to sleep night after night, in hatred of the world, those around her, and, most of all, herself. Until, one day, the love finally reached her shattered heart. It was a love she had met more than 10 years previously, but that she had doubted and disregarded for so very long, that she had never taken as real in her life. This love, that of Jesus Christ and his truly amazing forgiveness and compassion, finally became real to her. And when she made him the center of her life, it actually held meaning and purpose; it was worth something again. I'm sure all of you already know that I am describing myself. Those of you who know me, I am sure, know that I could not get up here and tell you anything of importance to me whatsoever, without reference to the most central part of my life, my faith in the Creator of the Universe, but more personally and important to me, the Creator of my life. He has taken me, a broken clay pot, and shaped me to something more like him. I am certainly not perfect, but he knows that. In fact, he has taken me into his family to be his child, knowing full well that I will continue to do exactly what I know is wrong. But the beauty of it is that he loves me still. I recognize that many of you come from various backgrounds with different beliefs and values, and I am not up here to try to convince you that you are all wrong and must believe what I tell you. I only know what God has done for me in my life. I want to encourage you to take a challenge as you enter college and continue the search to find your identity—exactly who you are. I ask you to seek the truth with all your heart. Never be satisfied with unanswered questions. For so many years of my life, I doubted the truth I had and sought instead what the world had to offer. The only place I ended up was hopeless, not wanting to continue on such a meaningless journey . … Maybe there are some of you out there who, like I was for so long, have to search for a reason to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. To you, I wish to say, you are loved beyond belief." Jennifer Swadell graduated at the top of her class at San Diego's Grossmont High School. As valedictorian, she was asked to speak at the graduation ceremony. She wrote a speech in which she thanked some of those who had taught her much and helped her grow—including Jesus. But when school officials read her speech beforehand, they told Jennifer her speech was illegal and that she had to delete all references to God and Jesus. Jennifer ended up writing a completely new speech—without references to God or Jesus—to appease school officials. She gave that new speech at graduation, concluding by saying, "Most of all, I want to thank the One who has rescued me and made the greatest impact on my life. But I am sorry to say it is illegal for me to say His name for you today." Ignite Your Faith received a copy of Jennifer's original speech—the one she wasn't allowed to give—and we liked it so much, we wanted to share it with you. With graduation coming up for many of you, we thought you'd like to hear her words of wisdom. Originally posted here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/hottopics/faithvalues/graduation-speech-i-couldnt-give.html?start=1

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1 Sara Di Diego = "This sounds suspicious since children in all schools in America must chant "one Nation under God" everyday."
2 Sara Di Diego = "We actually talked about this story in a religion class this past year.  The class was based on the Roots of Religious Toleration, and this was our first topic in our Modern Unit.  As my college is located in Texas, everyone had seen this news story everywhere the year this happened.  When my Professor asked if anyone had an opinion, my classmate gave us a new perspective on this subject.My classmate, let's call her Jessica, had been the only Jewish girl in her year at her Texas public school.  Jessica always felt very uncomfortable in assemblies where everyone was supposed to pray.  She would ask teachers if they could stop because she felt uncomfortable, or if she could even be exempt.  However her teacher always told her to deal with it, because the school was very religious.The last straw was at her graduation.  Jessica knew that her whole Jewish extended family would be coming to see her graduate.  She asked her teachers if they could forgo the prayer.  They did not listen to her, and she felt ashamed looking at her extremely uncomfortable family in the audience who were being judged for not participating in praising Jesus.Jessica said she was very glad that Jennifer Swadell was not allowed to say her primary speech.  She was glad that someone like her did not have to suffer through their graduation like she did.Furthermore, the percentage of Jewish persons in Texas are .6%, and the percentage of Muslim persons in Texas are 2.8%.  Although these numbers aren't big, they still represent people who shouldn't have to suffer from someone else's "free speech".  Work Cited:http://www.islam101.com/history/population2_usa.htmlhttps://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/usjewpop.html"