“Experts say the next five years are the most crucial in the history of this nation,” Senator Strom Thurmond warned Saturday while speaking at North Greenville College’s 88th annual graduation exercises. South Carolina’s senior United States Senator, Thurmond told the more than 600 people gathered in Turner Auditorium that the United States is threatened by “big spending in Washington,” by Communism, crime, federal intervention in all areas and our continued dependence on foreign oil.
In contrast, however, the 79 year-old senator told members of the NGC class of 1981, “You are to be congratulated for inheriting such a rich heritage as you have here in America and this especially rich heritage in South Carolina.” The newly elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate affirmed: “Thank God we live here; thank God they (the graduates) live here.”
A total of 81 associate degrees were award Saturday afternoon. Eleven of those diplomas went to persons who had completed their college work in December of last year.
At a press conference prior to his commencement address, Senator Thurmond said that while he earlier had stated this would be his last term in office, he was now having some second thoughts about not seeking re-election, “the situation has changed since I made the statement,” the veteran lawmaker told members of the electronic and print media present for the news conference at NGC.
Thurmond cited the fact he had been elected Senate President Pro Tempore, placing him third in line to succeed the President of the United States, and had also been chosen as chairman of the important Senate Judiciary Committee. Both these promotions resulted from the Republicans having gained majority control of the Senate in last year’s election.
“It will be a tough decision to make,” he acknowledged, adding that much would depend upon his health, and his family. Noting that he exercises daily, Thurmond added, “I’m in tip-top health; I feel as good as when I was forty.”
But he said he was endeavoring to spend as much time as possible with his wife Nancy and their four young children. The Senator said he now spends time with his children each morning before going to work and endeavors to get home at 8:00 each evening to spend time with Mrs. Thurmond and the children.
Thurmond said he felt President Reagan’s program to reverse the current trends in deficit federal spending will pass the Congress. “I’d think we’d get 80 percent or more of his programs though,” he said.
The senior lawmaker further said he felt the federal budget could be balanced in three to four years if Congress does enact the President’s programs.
Printed in the June 1981 edition of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.