“In America we don’t worship government, we worship God,” he said.
President Trump gave Liberty University’s commencement address as president, while Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame has had a tradition the last few generations to have the new president deliver his first Commencement address (there),” Liberty President Jerry Falwell told the crowd before introducing Trump. “We’ve always respected and admired Notre Dame University. In fact, from our very beginnings, we aspired to be for evangelical young people what Notre Dame is for Catholic young people. Well, I am proud to say today that the president of the United States chose to deliver his first Commencement address not at Notre Dame, but at Liberty University.”
President Trump then went on to encourage graduates to face criticism head on, while taking advantage of opportunities to be an “outsider.”
“It’s the outsiders who change the world,” said.
“Remember this: Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy,” he told to Liberty’s record-breaking Commencement crowd of over 50,000.
“Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right, and they know what is right, but they don’t have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it,” Trump said.
Trump advised the graduates to “never quit” and to walk with “dignity and pride.”
“Demand the best from yourself and be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures,” Trump said, taking a hit at the Washington Establishment. “Does that sound familiar, by the way?”
Trump promised the newest graduates of the largest Christian university in the world that he would always fight for their right to religious liberty.
“As long as I am your president no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what’s in your heart,” he said. “We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings.”
Trump was endorsed early on in the Republican primary by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who was thrilled with the address.
“It was the best commencement speech Liberty has ever had,” he said.
President Trump made a few football jokes towards Liberty’s upcoming schedule as well, expressing worry over how would Liberty would fair against the University of Virginia and Army.
Trump also honored Liberty’s nearly 6,000 military graduates, saying, “We are profoundly grateful to every single one of you who sacrifice to keep us safe and to protect God’s gift of freedom.”
“It is truly a testament to this university and the values that you embrace that your graduating class includes so many patriots who have served our country in uniform.”
The president also took the time to honor the late Reverend Jerry Falwell Sr,. who passed away suddenly ten years ago on May 15th, saying that it was his vision that made Liberty “what it is today.”
Overall, students seemed pleased with Trump’s address.
Nicholas Hamilton and Jordan Stein, two of yesterday’s graduates, noted how he kept the focus largely on the graduates on Fox and Friends.
“I was really happy with what he had to say, and I think he did an excellent job,” Hamilton said.
Stein noted the issues involving free speech on college campuses today, stating that it was Liberty that gave him the opportunity to hear from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump.
Stein called the speech the “icing on the cake” for his time at Liberty University, noting that the speech wasn’t “political.”