Speaking at Republic High School’s graduation, Palin said she was honored to address the 27 graduating seniors at the high school in the small town of Republic, Washington.
She movingly spoke about her father who grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, and she recalled how he liked the line about “looking out for the other fellow” in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Palin told the audience a story about a teacher who had a dream to move to Alaska, America’s last frontier, and may have only gotten there because of the random kindness of strangers in a small town that looked out for the other fellow.
As can be see in the video of her remarks, the audience was listening with rapt attention.
Palin said moving to the “wild last frontier” was a “risky endeavor” for the teacher, especially because the man did not “have much money at all.”
She said the teacher was not afraid of hard work and sent “his wife and three babies ahead” of him to Skagway, Alaska.
Describing the teacher as one of those “early bitter clingers” because he had a gun among his belongings in his brown Ford station wagon, Palin said his car broke down out in the “middle of nowhere,” and he was stuck on his way to Alaska 49 years ago.
She said he thought he was “doomed” because “this big repair job would cost way more than he had.”
Palin said the teacher somehow made it to the next town, found a mechanic, got to know “the very nice people of the town” and “told them about the life he hoped to live in Alaska.”
She said the teacher got a “lesson in the plain old everyday kindess of small town America” when the mechanic charged him “just ten bucks” and the “nice people sent him on his way North to follow his dream.”
“That schoolteacher was my Dad, Mr. Heath,” Palin said. “That small town was your small town. It was Republic, Washington. That mechanic was a guy named Mr. Carter. And my dad has never forgotten him or the kindess shown by this town.”
Palin continued, “You got us on our path.”
She noted that power players and troubled political writers who belittle small town America got “wee-wee’d” up and were “tsk-tsking” her when they heard she had accepted Republic High School’s invitation to speak at graduation.
The former Alaska governor who most resonates with conservatives and Tea Partiers said these elite and snobby writers “just don’t get it.” They certainly do not understand why small towns like Republic are special, Palin said.
She said her message to the “high and mighty” was that though “this town may be a small part of the great American republic, it is big on values.”
She said “everyday kindness will send you through your entire life” and to never “forget your Republic roots.”
“Personally, thank you for all that you have done for my family,” Palin movingly said. “You helped a teacher and a coach make his way to an exciting and unbelievable life in Alaska.”
She noted how the teacher’s baby girl grew up to be governor and was invited “back to the place where it all began.”
Republic exemplifies what makes America great – and it was an honor to thank them for it. To the Tigers of 2013 – thank you again for inviting me and inspiring me. Always remember your roots and never forget that kids from small schools can do big things. Our republic’s future is up to you!
Before the event, Palin had written that despite the opinion of the “lamestream media” and elite writers at the Seattle Weekly, “small town America is the soul of our country.”
“Small town America is our heart; it may not be the Ivy Leagues or what [a Seattle Weekly snob] and the media deem acceptable, but these students and this town represent what is good and right about America and the small towns where most of us grew our own roots and values,” Palin wrote. “Too often the media forgets its own humble roots and plays the elitist card. Not so this weekend. We are going to congratulate the Tigers of 2013 and have something special for each and every one. They will grow to defend our country, manage our economy, build our families, and work to achieve each of their own personal dreams.”
The mainstream media gushes and celebrates when President Barack Obama goes to an inner city school with a significant number of black students to inspire them to achieve beyond their dreams. They would gush if Julian Castro went to a school in a barrio where nobody significant has ever appeared and did the same. They would laud Jeremy Lin if he visited a non-elite elementary school in San Francisco with a significant number of students of Chinese descent and inspired them.
But these same elitists in the mainstream media are quick to mock Palin and small town America when Palin does the equivalent. Palin, who has to turn down more speaking requests than most people get in a lifetime, appeared at Republic High School–and paid her own way, no less–to symbolically tell those students and their town that they, too, still matter. And that they, too, can achieve big things in life. And that they, too, are worth being honored.
Too often in Washington–and in places like New York and Hollywood–people forget where they come from and forget to “dance with the one that brung ya.” Palin repeatedly emphasized to Republic High School’s graduating seniors to never forget their roots. But her actions on Saturday–showing up to the town that helped her father 49 years ago to show her family has never forgotten Republic’s kindness–not only reinforced her graduation message but actually spoke louder than all of her words.