Notre Dame, Ind.
Although Barack Obama was invited to speak at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement because of his historic victory as the first African-American president of the United States, he may be remembered for something even greater: beginning a civil conversation between supporters and opponents of legalized abortion in a speech that earned praise from those on both sides of the issue.
For all the news coverage of finger-wagging bishops, bussed-in protesters and Alan Keyes being dragged off in handcuffs, the bigger story at Notre Dame’s 164th commencement was the respectful tone, not only from the president of the country and the president of the university, but also from the majority of graduates and other Notre Dame students.
In the end, it was pretty much like any other graduation. Black-robed graduates posed with beaming parents for pictures in front of the Touchdown Jesus mosaic before the ceremony. Afterwards they ran up the stairs of the golden-domed Administration Building, smiling for even more pictures at the top. And they cheered their graduation speaker, who just happened to be the president of the United States.