Shelton tells grads to make own opportunities
(May 10, 2003)
Retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, the former top military adviser to the U.S. president, told East Carolina University graduates today (May 10) that success will be determined by the ability to make their own opportunities.
"The better you get at turning defeats into victories, frustration into satisfaction, and visions into reality, the more you will enjoy your achievements and appreciate the effort it takes to become a responsible member of society," Shelton said. Shelton, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, also received an honorary doctor of letters degree from ECU. About 2,300 degree candidates were recognized in morning and afternoon ceremonies in Minges Coliseum on the campus.
Shelton, a native of Speed in Edgecombe County, was scheduled to deliver last spring's commencement address at ECU, but he was forced to cancel because of serious injuries he suffered in a fall at his home. He told the graduates that during his recuperation from temporary paralysis, he learned what is really important in life: faith, family and friends. "Make sure that even as you strive mightily for success in your chosen fields, that you don't forget the importance of keeping your life in balance and nurturing the 3 Fs — faith, family and friends," he said "When times are hard, they'll stay with you, while others will quickly fade."
He told the graduates that they are heirs of a new era of peace and prosperity. "Each of you is now inheriting the dreams of your parents and the wealth of our society. It falls on your shoulders to continue our progress and protect our legacy," he said.
In a press conference after the ceremony, he said that the United States is now in the "really tough part" of rebuilding Iraq. Because of the strength of American armed forces, he said, "it is easier to get in than to get out" of that nation. "It will take a number of years and lots of money and lots of troops" to succeed in rebuilding the country, he said.