Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional message to the graduating students in this year’s class at UC Santa Barbara.
Biden’s video message addressed the May 24 shooting which left seven individuals dead, including the lone gunman. But it also included a message of gratitude, saluting the students for rallying in the wake of tragedy and encouraging them to embrace their accomplishment on graduation day.
“I know this has to be a pretty bittersweet moment for all of you,” Biden said in the opening remarks of the four-minute video. “But I know your thoughts are with the victims on that terrible day and the survivors who are still recovering.”
Biden called upon his own experience of loss, when a 1972 car crash killed his wife and 13-month-old daughter.
“I know from experience there’s nothing anyone can say or do to ease the overwhelming sense of loss that particularly the family members feel,” Biden said.
Biden made the remarks after a personal request from UCSB student Kyley Scarlet , who wrote a letter to Michelle Obama asking the first lady to attend the school’s commencement ceremony.
Obama was unable to attend because of a prior commitment, but the request was forwarded to Biden who decided to record the personal message.
After addressing the tragic shooting, Biden then shifted the rest of his remarks to a more positive message, saying the response of the students and the community had served as an inspiration to millions around the country.
“The day will come, as unbelievable as it seems now, when that memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen, I promise you,” Biden said.
“You don’t realize it but you’re an inspiration to millions of people across the country who have suffered a tragedy, who have faced evil, who have looked for hope and rebirth in the face of overwhelming sorrow and loss. You reclaimed this year’s commencement for what it rightly should be: a celebration.”
Scarlet praised Biden for his message in a statement released to the public.
“I am thankful to Vice President Biden for recording this encouraging and inspiring video for the UCSB and Isla Vista communities. It means a lot to our community to have him voice his support.”
Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)