Obama urges 10,000 OSU grads to fight for what they believe in
Tens of thousands of graduates, family and friends persevered through long security lines for an Ohio State University commencement ceremony today with the U.S. president as the featured speaker.
President Barack Obama urged graduating students to be active citizens, to fight for causes they believe in, and to be better than generations before them. More than 10,000 students were receiving degrees, including 130 veterans, with tens of thousands more audience members in a crowd estimated at nearly 60,000.
Lines of ticketholders had wrapped around Ohio Stadium on the breezy, 70-degree day as people passed through metal detectors and bag checks amid security heightened because of the president’s visit and increased caution after the Boston Marathon explosions.
Graduates went through screening at various gathering areas and paraded into the stadium through routes cordoned off by tall wire fences. Local police, state troopers and Secret Service agents were among the security forces on hand.
Some attendees acknowledged security was on their minds, in the aftermath of the marathon explosions, as they headed to see the president at such a large venue.
“You just never know,” said Tharnjeet Bir, 22, a Capital University student attending to support a graduating friend. “There’s stepped-up security everywhere, and stuff still happens.”
Collin Shaum of Mansfield noted the visible presence of officers as he prepared to watch his girlfriend graduate. Shaum, 25, said he was feeling “safe-ish — as safe as one can be in a crowd of 80,000.”
His girlfriend’s mother, Connie Shaffer, 52, of Shelby, said she was a little nervous but never considered not seeing her daughter’s graduation.
“If she’s going to be here, we’re going to be here,” she said.