Remarks by Jeanneane Maxon
Thank you Frank.
President Akande, Board of Trustees, faculty, fellow bluejays;
I am honored and proud to be here with my fellow awardees Alan, Bob, John, Neil, Greg, and Scott. I am so impressed with your accomplishments and honored to be a fellow alum. Especially you Scott, because yesterday I realized that when I graduated from Westminter you were probably still in middle school.
The day I learned I was to receive this award, that had just resigned from my position at Americans United for Life because of unbearable headaches. We didn’t know until two months later that I had grade 4 malignant brain cancer. Frankly, the fact that I am here today is a miracle. And even though I still have a long way to go. I believe I will return here every year until my Golden Legion Anniversary and beyond.
My friend, Peter Dobelbower, who one a Lifetime Alumni Award two years ago, is here. Peter, the courage and commitment that you and countinue to display to protect the religious rights of all of us is inspiring. When I think of you I think of what Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Dr. Jamie Kondis, my college roommate, (I too have a hard time saying that). Jamie, last year when you received this award and talked about our friendship, you remarked about the coincidence that we would be both end up fighting in the area child advocacy. I have to disagree with you on that point. Your presence in my life was no coincidence. God knew I needed some Jamie Spurrier in my life—and not just to sing me Elton John songs to me during finals week, and show tunes during finals week.
You challenged me to be a better student and a better person.
President Akande, I stand here feeling profoundly inadequate. I owe a debt to this college and its faculty a debt that I will never be able to repay. This college and its character, history and most importantly, its people, notability, like Dr. Perry who became one of the most fundamental influences and mentors in my life, which would continue with Melinda Delahoyde and Charmaine Yoest, and Dr. Langton, who encouraged me to be bold and allowed me to be myself even though we did not see eye to eye on everything. And others like Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Jefferson who both gave me the courage to be myself. You all have made so much of my success possible.
I chose a controversial career path. Since I left WC, I have been ridiculed and rejected for my positions, I have even had death threats, I but that is not the example of Westminster. TO the contrary, Westminster allowed and encouraged me to intelligently defend my beliefs, even if they were different than those my professors and peers. That is the very essence of the John Stuart MIllsian concept of the Marketplace of Ideas. Yes, I did learn something in class Dr. Langton. The result is that I can have friendships beyond political and ideological differences. That is why I can get well wishes from Ted Cruz and John Langton on the same day. The strength Westminster gave me to be myself also gave me courage. This courage, and the example of professors who poured into my life, inspired me to serve others and pursue the cause of human rights for the unborn unabashedly. It has now given me the ability to fight my illness.
Mom and Dad, last time you were here on my graduation day, you were living a parents greatest dream, and now I know you are living a parent’s worst nightmare. Along with my siblings Nathan, Cathy, and Bonnie. My nieces and nephews Isaac, Ava, Olivia, and Noah. Thank you for being strong when I was weak and for saving my life.
I know that this is a difficult speech for some here to listen to, because you have lost loved ones to cancer or other illnesses. All I can say is that I don’t know why God chooses to spare some and not others. But, I have walked a similar path. You see, there should be a 11-year-old boy sitting with my family today, my nephew Elijah. These tragedies are beyond our understanding.
But, I take solace in the words of another young person, a young man who succumbed to my disease in a prisoner of war camp in China during World War II, just 5 days before liberation at only age 43. Olympic champion Eric LIddel, portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire, said this, “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working, He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love.”
There is a Hope. A Hope for us, and for the next generation, And if you don’t know God the way I do. I believe if you pray and ask him to show himself to you, you can have this hope too.
Thank you President Akande. It is, indeed, great to be Home again!