But if the audience was to remember one thing from his speech, Benson said, he wants them to remember that “the two greatest social policies our country ever undertook came at two of our darkest moments in our history.”
One, he said, was during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act to establish state universities throughout the country.
The second greatest social policy occurred 75 years later when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, which extended benefits for veterans, he said.
Benson then asked a few veterans in the audience to speak on how the G.I. Bill helped further their education.
“Talk to the 1,300 veterans that we have on our campus and ask them how the G.I. Bill has impacted their lives,” Benson said.
There was a “watershed moment,” the president said, when a few years ago, “we passed this threshold when the older generation in our society is now more educated than the younger generation.”
Benson then read a list of countries whose younger generation is more educated than the older, which included Canada, Japan and Korea. American placed ninth on that list.
He encouraged the audience to talk to the children in their lives about education “and tell them the thing that is going to enhance our economy in this country is the ability to have access to education and for our country to have an educated populace.”
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.