Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 2010 University of Denver Law Student Frank Bingham Provides Inspiring Words in Commencement Remarks to Graduates

Saturday was a joyful and fulfilling day for the graduates of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program. The recognition of a job well done by these graduates was celebrated in a happy event shared by parents, spouses, significant others, children, friends and the entire University of Denver community. Over the coming days, the blog will post various pictures from the day's events.

However before sharing some of those moments, it is well worth reflecting on the story of Frank Bingham, a 2010 juris doctor graduate (who also has a Ph.D. in Education) who has taken several environmental and natural resources courses and who was chosen by the class of 2010 to speak at commencement (click here to see a video of Dr. Bingham's remarks). During those courses, I got to know Frank. In brief, Frank Bingham is one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met. And I am confident the same feeling is held by all those who know Frank.

In November 2006, first semester law student Frank Bingham, his wife and two small children were walking in downtown Denver. They were hit by a drunk driver. Frank was the only one of the four who survived. And consequently, despite the overwhelming joy of graduation day 2010, in many respects Frank was alone. And yet, at the same time he wasn't. Nearly three and a half years after that fateful day there was Frank -- on the stage before about 6,000 people -- talking about his life, his struggles, and his hope for the future.

Frank's message was one of looking to the future, yet living in the present. He was not bitter. He was not defeated. His words were an inspiration to anyone who has suffered a setback, a tragedy, a loss of confidence.

Before Frank said one word, the entire audience rose in unison to recognize this brave and wise man. During his speech, those attending the graduation ceremony paid rapt attention. Afterwards, he was warmly greeted again with prolonged and heartfelt applause.

No one could pretend for a moment to suggest that he or she really understands Frank's losses. But I can say without equivocation that all of us have a great deal to learn from the grace, the dignity, the courage of Frank Bingham.

It has been my privilege to get acquainted with Frank. When it comes to matters of life (and in this case death), Frank has been the teacher and I the student. It is difficult to fully express my admiration for this kind man, this strong human being, this exemplar of success in the shadow of tragedy.

May Frank's road ahead be filled with happiness and fulfillment. And may those of us who know and love Frank learn every day from his example.

Godspeed Frank Bingham. May the sun always shine on you, those you love, and your destiny as one our society's greatest examples of courage, tenacity, and hope.

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