- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

A New York City firefighter, a police officer and an engineer who worked on the World Trade Center are among this year's commencement speakers at colleges and universities nationwide.
They will join a string of top Bush administration officials, a few Democratic lawmakers and conservative speakers and actors, who educators say will discuss the September 11 attacks in their commencement speeches.
"September 11 is an event of the kind of magnitude that will almost definitely be discussed at graduations all around the country," said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, a group that represents about 2,000 private and public college presidents.
"I would be surprised if a speaker doesn't at least refer to that day. It's a new world order that we're talking about, really," he said.
Most of the institutions which have invited engineers who worked on the World Trade Center and firefighters or rescue workers who worked on recovery efforts to speak to the graduating classes are on the East Coast.
Penn State University, for one, has asked Leslie E. Robertson, the lead structural engineer for the World Trade Center, to speak at the school's College of Engineering commencement ceremony.
Union College in Barbourville, Ky., will host Frank Stonitsch, an alumnus and New York City firefighter. Kean University in Union, N.J., will host John Collins, a lieutenant with the Port Authority Police Department, who was at the World Trade Center during the attack.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani both of whom have helped their respective cities recover from the September 11 attacks are expected to speak at Georgetown University Law Center graduation.
Mr. Stonitsch said he won't dwell on September 11, but rather talk about the unity and the patriotism he has seen after the attacks.
"Negative stories wouldn't be appropriate on graduation," he said.
"My message to these students will be: Adapt and overcome, and never give up. That's what life is all about."
Many more conservatives and Republicans will be standing behind the lectern this year.
Many of them were not invited to speak at last year's graduation ceremonies, because most schools had locked in their speakers before the current administration's officials were announced.
As of yesterday, the White House had not announced where President Bush would speak.
Groups such as the Cardinal Newman Society in Falls Church, which monitors graduation speakers in Catholic schools, say they are pleased with most of this year's speakers.
"It makes sense to have current administration officials to speak at the schools, instead of Clinton throwbacks," said Patrick Reilly, the society's president. "As for talking about September 11 at the ceremonies, that's the kind of thing we ought to be praising and supporting."

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