It began for me with the fire marshal commanding me to take down political paraphernalia off my door in the on-campus dorms because it was unpopular during the election season and “it would possibly catch fire;” with David Horowitz’s nationwide tour on reparations for slavery; with the ethnic interest halls; with comp hall and with my first forays into writing. And it will end in only a few days with marches for America, rallies for our troops, campaigning, event press releases, endorsing candidates, interviews for the news media, speeches before classrooms and grassroots organizations, student-organized debates, elections to statewide office, founding a student-produced political magazine, sit-ins in the chancellor’s office, photographing the opposition and a call from my governor and state party to nominate the president of the United States for re-election in a time of war.

I have expressed much criticism regarding the conduct of this university and I have expressed it publicly. But I would be foolish if I allowed this expression to be the sole representation of my thoughts of UCSB. I would be foolish in the same fashion as the academics and professors and self-anointed intellectuals I consistently deride are. I have benefited greatly from this radical system and I will not forget it. The University of California, Santa Barbara, in all its capacity as an instrument for the social change I disagree with, brought forth my passion for foreign and domestic issues and for politics, which will most likely end up becoming my life. More important than this, the university unintentionally compelled me to recognize one the most basic character traits of people in this country: being an American.

We, the few soon graduating, are a small class from a generation born in the last millennium and released onto the world in this one. We have studied during a grand trial of our common link and common goal. We are part of a land, an idea, whose soil and status will only continue to be held together by the brave shedding of blood and tears. And all the attempts of the academy to wash itself and its constituents clean have fallen away in the manner of greatest ignorance. It would be best in our first stride into learned adulthood to remember those efforts, to remember these marks. We are Americans.

The days are more stern, if I may say, than they have ever been before. American grandiosity is the third rail in higher education. Disagreements with leftist orthodoxy have been prohibited on our campus in an Orwellian fashion. The world is gripped. God is invoked. God is ignored. Perversion is pervasive. Security is scarce. The fire is burning. We will soon be the watchmen. We will not wake from our formative and fleeting years of college youth in vain.

We now stand on the brink with one final crescendo of anxiety before us. And after, we must do nothing less than struggle with all our might toward the preservation of the framework that supports and encourages for all the passionate quest for glory that has separated our nation from any nation prior. We are the light and we would be troubled indeed if we thought otherwise. America in shame is America lost. Our country at this time demands a fierceness of hope and honor and good sense.

We, the few soon graduating, have been the beneficiaries of a thousand years of historical experience. It has been our task to find ourselves closer to an enlightened synthesis. If we lend our unique education, in any small measure, toward the stopping of the blaze and satiation of these demands, the years spent laboring in this place leading to this moment will not be seen without purpose.

Nicholas Romero is a senior philosophy major.