Vice President Joe Biden told University of South Carolina graduates Friday don't believe in cynics and have faith in your ability as you go out in the world.
In his 30-minute speech at Colonial Life Arena, Biden, who also received an honorary doctorate degree, challenged the Class of 2014 not to listen to pessimists who say their generation isn't good enough to take on the future.
"So today, for all the uncertainty you may feel, never forget, the future is within your control," Biden said. "Do not listen to the cynics. I'm optimistic because I know the history of the journey of this nation. The only piece of advice that I will give you which I'm absolutely certain, the cynics were wrong about my generation, two generations later, they are wrong about your generation."
Biden also said the graduates have a unique opportunity to "bend history" to their will.
"Those voices do not understand then, and they do not understand now, that my generation and yours graduated at one of those inflection points in American history, and the world was changing no matter what we did about it," Biden said.
With 1,438 students in attendance at Friday's commencement, Biden said that while technology, policy and world events have changed drastically over the years, criticism has not.
"It's a bad bet to bet against your generation," Biden said. "For all the doubt, you are the most competent, capable, caring, equipped generation in American history. I know the history of the journey of this country and it is always, always, always forward when given a chance, the American people have never ever let their country down."
Biden told the crowd he first visited the Palmetto State in 1974 and talked about some of his South Carolina friends, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"I have a lot of friends in this state," Biden said. "Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a very close friend of mine, although in an election year he wouldn't want me to acknowledge that, I suspect. We disagree but if he gave me a call in the middle of the night and said ‘Joe show up at 7th and Vine' in the middle of St. Louis, I'd get on a plane and go and I know he would go from me, Even though I think he's wrong on a lot of issues."
The vice president also attended a Democratic fundraiser before the speech.
Before Biden addressed the graduates, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides told students he's looking forward to seeing what's next for the Class of 2014.
"Getting from Freshman Convocation to Thanksgiving seems like you've spent a lifetime away from home… and then, all of a sudden, you're ordering your cap and gown," Pastides said. "So graduates, that's about to happen again. I expect that the next period of your life… it will all pass very quickly, just like a precious spring day on the Horseshoe after a grueling winter. And, in moving forward, keep in mind what Duke Ellington said when asked what his favorite song was. He said that it was always the next song, always the one he had yet to compose."
Pastides said he hopes students cherished their time at Carolina
"You'll be even more excited about tomorrow, about your next song," Pastides said. "I can't wait to hear what it will be."
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