IWP President Amb. Aldona Woś gave the following remarks at the Presidential Investiture and Commencement for the Class of 2023 on May 13, 2023. A video of these remarks may be found here.
Good morning, ladies, gentlemen, distinguished guests, and graduates.
I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the past year of accomplishments at IWP while providing a safe and intellectually challenging environment for our students.
This would not have been possible without the support of our devoted professors, dedicated staff, and the commitment of the Trustees and benefactors. Thank you.
And most important for our collective success is you the graduate. Congratulations on your hard work and perseverance.
It has been a personal honor to lead this great institution because my personal mission is reflective of the school’s broader mission – the advancement of human freedom. IWP is unique in graduate schools of statecraft in putting American founding principles – including freedom – at the center of what we do.
“IWP is unique in graduate schools of statecraft in putting American founding principles – including freedom – at the center of what we do.”
IWP truly offers the most comprehensive education in our field. We are the only school where students study the moral, political, economic, military, and diplomatic defense of American liberty.
We are keenly aware of Ronald Reagan’s maxim that freedom is always one generation away from extinction. If people are not educated in the norms and importance of freedom, if they are not given the intellectual tools and moral arguments to sustain and advance human liberty, it will wither and fade.
Graduates, you leave here with a critical mission: to help ensure the survival of the United States as a free, prosperous, and the most charitable and innovative country in history. Because if the American experiment fails, freedom fails. Many American policymakers, pundits, and academics don’t seem to be aware of this. But our adversaries understand it and are working diligently to create a post-American world.
These adversaries are driven by ideologies that are against human nature – a force counter to human goodness. It may have gone out of fashion to describe this as evil, but that’s what we are up against. They are ideologies of destruction.
Various ideas and belief systems are crucial to understand because they may have serious political implications. For example, take fascism and communism. These toxic ideologies devastated my native Poland.
“Graduates, you leave here with a critical mission: to help ensure the survival of the United States as a free, prosperous, and the most charitable and innovative country in history. Because if the American experiment fails, freedom fails.”
My freedom-fighting grandparents were forcibly deported to Germany in WWI. During World War II, both my grandparents and parents continued the struggle for liberty. My mother as a child was pressed into Nazi slave labor. My father enlisted in the Polish Army and subsequently was a member of the Polish Underground Armia Krajowa, rescuing Jews from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. He was further a Catholic concentration camp survivor, prisoner number 23,504. He was liberated from Flossenburg concentration camp by General Patton’s US Army. I was born in Poland and lived under imposed communist rule.
And what do we see around us today? In communist China, there are concentration camps for dissidents; medical experiments and organ harvesting performed on the Uyghur people. We are seeing mass graves uncovered in Ukraine, of people systematically executed by Russian invaders for no other crime than being Ukrainian.
Rights trampled, dreams crushed, freedom extinguished. It is an affront to God, to nature, and to the human spirit. We are too precious as human beings to not be allowed to realize our full potential.
We at IWP want to make the world better – safer – more enlightened – and more harmonious. We want a world in which free people can live and flourish in peace.
And we can’t achieve these great things without your help. So many of you have been so very generous with your time, your ideas, and your financial support. And I hope you will continue to support IWP in this honorable mission, this noble struggle for goodness, decency, and human freedom. I am sure that you, the graduates, will use what you have learned at IWP wisely.
History has shown us time and time again that when freedom and democracy are threatened, it is up to us to defend them.
But why is it important today?
The answer is simple: because human liberty is worth fighting for. The right to live our lives as we see fit, to express ourselves freely, and to pursue our dreams without fear of persecution or oppression, is a fundamental human right that must be protected.
So let us stand together and defend the values of freedom and democracy that have made our societies strong and resilient, and let us ensure that future generations can enjoy the same liberties and opportunities that we have today.
For me personally, IWP and you the graduates represent hope. Hope for the future that preserves the values of liberty, security, and freedom.