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To this day, I donít know how we did it, but the judge granted the family asylum. We left the hearing office and walked out to the lobby where his wife and Vita were waiting. Everyone was ecstatic. The couple was passing the baby around and everyone was kissing her. And then Vita got to me. Now up until this moment I had never held a baby before. It wasnít that I didnít like babies, it was just that I never really had the opportunity to hold one. So I took Vita into my arms and almost at once, I was filled with a sense of hope. This baby would grow up to be someone. Who? I didnít know, but hopefully someone who would do something really important. I wondered whether one day she would help a child in a similar situation. At the same time that I felt this sense of hope, I also felt an overwhelming instinct to protect her. This smiling child I had in my hands was completely innocent. She knew nothing about discrimination or of hatred. All she wanted was food, clothing, shelter, and love. Her name, appropriately enough, means ďlifeĒ in Russian.

I think those feelings I had were similar to those that parents here had when you held your children for the first time. I am also certain that parents everywhere have similar feelings when they first pick up their children - be they living in Jerusalem, Jenin, North Korea, Iran, Iraq or in Philadelphia. Something is terribly wrong if they donít. If itís common ground we seek, the love for oneís child is a good place to start. There is no question that force may have to be used when dealing with those who donít share this belief, but let us never forget that this bond is our most devastating weapon against them.

I sincerely mean it when I say that our class is capable of solving the problems that our nation and our communities face. In a very short time, it will be those of our generation making decisions that will impact a great many people both living and to come. Why canít members of this class make those decisions? Penn Lawís strength historically hasnít been in the public sector - our class must change that. The last Penn Law alumnus to serve as a member of Congress was George Wharton Pepper. He served over 75 years ago. This law school, although founded by a founder of this country, has never had a president as an alumnus. Harvard Law claims 5. By our 30 year reunion, we should strive to count among our ranks at least one member of this class who has served as a judge, at least one who has served as a mayor, at least one who has served as a governor, and at least one who has served as a member of Congress.

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