Audio from Commencement 2004
Commencement Address by Colin Powell
May 17, 2004
NOTE: The audio excerpts here are provided in two formats: for listening, the audio files are low-quality Quicktime audio. For download, the files are 44 kHz .WAV files stored in .zip format.
"Above all, the greatest gift you receive from your family, and from your family and your community, all coming together as a gift of character. In my profession, soldiering, character is perhaps the most important trait we seek and expect in our leaders, character which inspires trust in others, character which gives confidence to others to follow you into the darkest night, character which keeps you pointed towards true north no matter what winds or waves come to try to push you off course onto the shoals of doubt, dishonesty and despair, character which always presses you to do the right thing."
"Our nation is now going through a period of deep disappointment, a period of deep pain over some of our soldiers not doing the right thing at a place called Abu Ghraib. I spent a good part of my time in Jordan this past weekend dealing with this problem and the terrible impact it has had on our image in the world. I told the audiences that I spoke to over the weekend that all Americans deplored what happened there and there could be no excuse. But I also told them that one soldier had done the right thing. He knew something wrong was happening and he spoke out. He told his commanders, who immediately began an investigation.
I also told them that in their disappointment about America right now. Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing. Watch what a nation of values and character, a nation that believes in justice, does to right this kind of wrong. Watch how a nation such as ours will not tolerate such actions."
"The world will see that we are still a nation with a moral code that defines our national character."
"Remember that in Iraq today there are tens of thousands of young American soldiers and diplomats who are putting their lives on the line daily for the freedom of the Iraqi people. They are fighting terrorists and regime remnants. They are building hospitals and schools. They are repairing water plants and oil facilities. They are helping to build democratic institutions where none ever existed previously. They are teaching a people about freedom and democracy. They are working to help Iraqis rebuild a country that was devastated by Saddam Hussein during a tyrannical reign of 30 years. And our troops will succeed because they are doing the right thing. "
"When people are suffering and you can help them, you help them. You act. You do what's right. That's the American way. Whether it's fighting poverty, disease or hunger, or whether it's fighting terrorism or rogue regimes, we are determined to lead our nation this Administration is in always doing the right thing."