Good afternoon, and Congratulations, both to the new graduates, and to those who are here to show support for them.
The well-being of human populations has been linked with that of their animals for thousands of years. Over that time, veterinary medicine has evolved to become the complex contemporary science it is today. Modern veterinary medicine is characterized by its enormous scope and breadth. Veterinarians find employment in a breath-taking array of activities. These include preservation of the health of human populations by ensuring a reliable supply of safe and nutritious food, protecting the environment by careful consideration of the nutrient intake of production animals and the judicious use of a number of chemicals, including antimicrobials, the preservation of animal diversity by working with free living or captive wild animals, clinical work with the full range of domestic animals in a wide range of specialties, and research in agriculture, biomedicine or zoology, to name just a few. What all the diverse fields of veterinary endeavor have in common is that they serve human beings by addressing the well-being of animals.
In serving society in these ways, veterinarians have earned a position of trust and respect. That respect is sufficiently well established to have found a place in our everyday lexicon. I mean no disrespect to any other profession as I seek to make this point, but consider for a moment that when something is “doctored” it has been tampered with or falsified. Likewise, when we “engineer” a specific outcome, we have achieved it by artful contrivance, dramatically exemplified by the engineer in Miss Saigon. Of lawyers I need not speak. However, when something has been “vetted,” it has been appraised, verified and checked for authenticity.
The respect contemporary society has for veterinarians is rooted not only in their professional competence, but also in the integrity and dedication veterinarians have brought to their professional activities as they serve humankind by serving animal kind. I know that the Class of 2002 will perpetuate and further augment the affection and respect of society for veterinarians. This spirit of service – to human beings and our animals – is captured in the Veterinarians’ Oath.
The origins of the Oath are obscure. It was first used by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1954, and slightly revised to be formally adopted in its current form in 1969. To lead you in the Veterinarians’ Oath I am honored to introduce Dr. Walter K. McCarthy, President of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. Dr. McCarthy.