As an alum of Louisiana State University, I was hit by a pang of jealousy when I learned that President Bush would be speaking at today's commencement. It was so long ago, I couldn't tell you who spoke at mine.
I would've loved to have been there, but fortunately, the internet made the transcripted account of his remarks available here.
For any of you interested in what he had to say but unfamiliar with the local references, here's the key:
Paragraph 3: "...Others may have spent a little less time in the library -- (laughter) -- a little more time keeping the stools warm down at The Chimes."
The Chimes is an restaurant/bar just north of campus that also books live entertainment. It is a fairly nice place compared to some of the dives my friends and I frequented (The Library, The Bayou, Magoo's, Louie's, Round-the-Corner...).
Paragraph 4: "...at LSU...you learned to take your sports seriously. I know you're especially proud of your mighty national champs, the finest athletes to wear the LSU jersey -- the Lady Tigers of the women's track team. Plus you've got a pretty good football team, too."
The LSU Ladies Track Team has won 24 National Championships - 11 indoor titles and 13 outdoor, including 11 straight from 1987-1997. Their most recent were 2004 (indoor) and 2003 (outdoor - the 2004 regionals start in a week). LSU's Football Tigers have won 2 - 1958 and 2003.
Paragraph 5: President Bush refers to "Free Speech Alley" which is really a bench between the LSU Student Union and the Parade Grounds upon which students and non-students alike have been speechifying on the issues of the day since at least 1970.
President Bush's political opponents preemptively asserted their grief that he would use this opportunity to bring up political issues, like the war. He did. Any sitting President would have, election year or not. And it is certainly appropriate to bring it up considering LSU's history.
LSU's origin is that of a military academy, having as its founding superintendent in 1860 one William Tecumseh Sherman, Colonel, United States Army. LSU contributed significantly to the officer corps of the U.S. military, ranking in the top 4 during WWII behind West Point, The Naval Academy and Texas A&M. The names of those who gave their lives in this service have been etched on the LSU War Memorial, the newest of four such memorials, dedicated in 1998 with former President George H.W. Bush as guest speaker. Famed Alex Box Stadium, home of the 5-time College World Series Champion LSU baseball team was named for a 1942 letterman. Lieutenant Box served as a tank commander with the "Big Red One", was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was killed in Tunisia in 1943.
Even after ROTC became optional during the first Vietnam Backlash, it was referred to as "The Old War Skule". The campus library is named for Gen. Troy H. Middleton, a WWII commander who served as president from 1951-62, and during whose tenure it was established that academic credit was granted for military service. Under this program, Lamar Simmons, who enlisted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, 3 credits shy of graduation, was awarded his diploma today at age 83.
Last night my Dear Sweet Wife and I had occasion to be on campus and observed the security around the P-MAC as we watched Mike the Tiger (Mike V) do tiger things. Early in our relationship we saw then-candidate Ronald Reagan in that very building. Different tiger (Mike IV), different man, same principals.