COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Barack Obama has urged graduating Ohio State University students to be active citizens, to fight for causes they believe in, and to be better than generations before them.
Obama spoke to thousands of graduates and audience members who had stood in long lines wrapping around Ohio Stadium on a breezy, 70-dgree Sunday.
They passed through metal detectors and bag checks amid security heightened because of the president’s visit and increased caution after the Boston Marathon explosions.
Local police, state troopers and Secret Service agents were among the security forces on hand.
Audience member Collin Shaum of Mansfield said he felt “safe-ish” with the visible security.
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Tens of thousands of people had to go through long security lines Sunday for the Ohio State University spring commencement highlighted by President Barack Obama’s speech.
There were many Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and police as well as Secret Service agents, as the graduates and spectators passed through metal detectors and other security at Ohio Stadium. More than 10,000 graduates were on hand, including 130 veterans, with tens of thousands more family and friends.
Some people acknowledged security issues had been on their minds, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, as they headed to a large venue with the president on his way.
“You just never know,” said Tharnjeet Bir, 22, a Capital University student on hand to watch a friend graduate. “There’s stepped-up security everywhere, and stuff still happens.”
Collin Shaum, 25, Mansfield, noted the visible presence of police as he prepared to watch his girlfriend graduate. 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.
Some waiting graduates passed the time in line by exchanging Twitter messages with the hashtag “ThingsShorterThanOSUCommencementLine,” such as the sign-up line for space travel and the shelf life of Twinkies.
Obama’s commencement address marks the Democrat’s fifth trip to Ohio State since the start of 2012. He kicked off his re-election campaign there a year ago. He carried the battleground state twice.
The university said he would be the third sitting president to deliver its commencement address. The others were Presidents George W. Bush in 2002 and Gerald Ford in 1974.
His other commencement speeches this season are scheduled later at all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
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