Sen. Burr says unity needed for progress

By Maggie Barrett
February 21, 2006

Sen. Richard Burr told an audience at Wake Forest University Feb. 21 that unity is key for the United States to continue to progress as a leader of democracy in the world, and that the nation's history is both a testament to the importance of unity as well as the foundation for it.

Sen. Richard Burr

"It is in fact our history that should guide this country," Burr said. "Specifically, that document we call the Constitution."

Burr, a 1978 Wake Forest graduate, spoke during Wake Forest's Founders' Day Convocation in the university's Wait Chapel.

In his address, Burr pointed out that division among Americans, reflected today by the division between political parties and opinions on war, is not new.

"There was no greater divisive period or period of debate or controversy in history than the period of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War," Burr said.

Burr said that Lincoln understood the importance of unity, and that his understanding was probably influenced by the Constitution.

Burr, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, added that unity in the United States is something that requires the efforts of all citizens.

"The challenge for us is to make sure to resolve the internal challenges," Burr said. "We have to remember that for this country to go forward, it has to be united. It has to be one nation. In fact, it is as much reliant upon the American people as it is on the leadership we choose to have in place," Burr said.

During the 11 a.m. ceremony, Thomas K. Hearn Jr., Wake Forest president emeritus, and T. Eugene Worrell, Wake Forest alumnus, benefactor and life trustee, each received the Medallion of Merit, Wake Forest's highest award for service to the university.

A portrait of Hearn was also unveiled. Painted by Ben Wohlberg, an artist from Rhode Island, the portrait will hang on the second floor of Reynolda Hall alongside the portraits of Wake Forest's 11 other former presidents.

Several other university awards were presented to faculty during the ceremony. Mary F. Foskett, Zachary T. Smith Associate Professor of Religion, was awarded the Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award for Contribution to Student Life. The Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Brook M. Davis, assistant professor of theatre and dance. The Award for Excellence in Research was presented to Gregory B. Cook, associate professor of physics. The Kienzle Teaching Award was presented to Charles R. Kennedy Jr., associate professor of management. Charles P. Rose, professor of law, was awarded the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award. Robert C. Nash, associate professor of finance, and Patrick R. McMullen, associate professor of management, were presented the Cowan Faculty Research Prize.

Listen to the speech »