Northeaster douses spring commencement
(May 15, 1999)
East Carolina University graduates got an abbreviated commencement ceremony here on Saturday, May 15 as a light rain and brisk northeast winds chilled graduates along with their friends and family attending the ceremony at ECU's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The weather even prompted Dr. William Friday, former president of the University of North Carolina system, to cut his address to the graduates to only a few paragraphs.
He had planned to talk to the nearly 2,200 degree candidates about the importance of civility and public service.
"What has happened to the tradition of 'courtesy' - good manners, if you will, and the decency and respect so long the hallmark of southern living?" Friday said in the text of the address. "We tolerate vulgarity in our culture. Election campaigns seek to destroy individual candidates rather than to illuminate issues. Indeed, we often confuse manufactured celebrities as authentic American heroes."
He urged the seniors and graduate students to use their talents to build greater civility in their lives. He also suggested that they take the time and energy to bond with children and family and to renew the once honored tradition of public service in America by helping the poor and giving back to society. The former UNC leader had planned to use the ceremony to voice his objection to proposals in the state legislature to create a state lottery .
He described lotteries as "legalized gambling." "Surely, the North Carolina that could reduce taxes by more than $1.2 billion during the last five years will not now legislate this new, implicit tax that will impact the poor of the state more dramatically than any other group of citizens," he said.