Rod Roberts gives farewell speech in Iowa House

State Representative Rod Roberts (R-Carroll) just finished up a 17 minute farewell speech [AUDIO] in the Iowa House.  (Each legislator who has announced they are not seeking reelection are given an opportunity to give a retirement speech.)  Roberts, who is running for governor, took a verbal trip down memory lane and offered some advice to his soon-to-be-former colleagues:

“Have a life outside of politics to be balanced, to have equilibrium.  Have a life that is rich and full and enjoyable and have a life that is built around people — family and friends,” Roberts said. “This is a place where I believe it is important to practice the Golden Rule; to smile; to say, ‘Hello’ and to be kind to one another.  Remember that no one is indispensable in this line of work.  As much respect as I have for all of you and what we do, others can come and do the job as well or better than any of us, and they will.

“…In this place, fewer words are better than many. Short words are better than compound complex words that can be open to misinterpretation — another lesson I’ve learned.”

Roberts said his “one regret” was that the legislature didn’t set the wheels in motion for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. A few moments later, Roberts donned a pair of reading glasses and read The Dash, a poem by Linda Ellis.  Roberts changed the “she” to “he” and the “her” to “him” in the verse.   Read Ellis’ original poem below.

The Dash Poem – by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
©1996 Linda Ellis

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.