Farewell speeches can be extraordinary moments for public servants leaving office. In a farewell address, the person giving it usually speaks about something closest to his or her heart.
George Washington warned about the dangers of partisan politics in his farewell address. Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed his concern with the military-industrial complex. And who can forget General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell, saying, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” and “duty, honor, and country”?
The day before the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned last month, lawmakers who had either decided not to run again or had failed to win re-election were formally saying goodbye to their colleagues on their respective chamber’s floor. Among the many speeches given, one stood out and proved extraoridnary.
Senator Tommy Tucker (R-Union) rose to speak and the President of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, recognized him for “a moment of personal privilege.”
Tucker said that he had not prepared his remarks and would be extemporaneous.
He began by acknowledging his affection for his fellow Senators. He named several of them, referring to a few humorous experiences with certain ones, which drew hearty laughter. He said, “We have laughed and argued and gotten mad with each other. But this is an exclusive club – exclusive in that we represent North Carolina. And it is truly an honor and a privilege to have served with you. I care deeply about all of you. I owe a lot to a lot of people.”
The sincerity of his words was most evident from his struggle to keep his emotions in check. At times, the burly Tucker, well-known for his blustery manner, choked back the tears, especially as he described his past as a youth.
He said that he never dreamed he would come so far in life. His “Granny,” as he affectionately referred to her, used to call him a “roughian.”
“I had to go off to military school after my parents died,” he lamented. But before their death, he said, “My mother used to march me off to Sunday School every Sunday. So I got the foundation under me.”
The words that followed, in my estimation, were nothing less than spellbinding. Not because they were particularly articulate, but more because they were so germane to the times.
Here’s most of the rest of what Tucker said. I’ve edited it a little for clarity and brevity, but the substance remains unchanged.
“There are some things that I see that I wish I could change. When I make these statements, I don’t mean to elicit any argument. It’s just my opinion, and I don’t mean to offend anyone at all.
“When I went to school, public school, we used to have a Bible verse and say the pledge of allegiance. And we have done everything we can, it seems, in our country to eliminate God from everything – because we will offend somebody. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be standing here, the people in Union County wouldn’t have voted for me, I wouldn’t even be alive if Jesus hadn’t gotten a hold of me. But he did.
“This country was founded on Christian principles, and I believe that. If you know history, you can’t deny it. So I stand before you a sinner saved by grace.
“The other thing I see wrong with this country is with men. Fathers who impregnate women and leave those women to take care of those children and some of them become wards of the state. We have over 11,000 children (North Carolina) in the foster care system. Something is wrong!
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SOURCE: Christian Post