#HowToDad  John Foley father of James Foley journalist beheaded by…

#HowToDad: John Foley, father of James Foley, journalist beheaded by ISIS, took the mic at Plymouth State University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.

The university’s ceremony program listed the presentation of the degree in the name of James Wright Foley, who was beheaded in a Syrian desert in August, but the appearance of John and Diane Foley on stage, in caps and gowns, was a surprise to most in the crowd, and even to some university officials.

When John Foley stepped to the microphone, the room went silent.

“I believe Jim’s message today to all of us would be to take courage, stand up for what is right, help and encourage those in need with our time and our effort, and to be grateful for the gifts that we have received,” he said.

At an otherwise joyful 144th commencement ceremony, Foley’s emotional words brought a few tears, and drew a long standing ovation, with loud cheers filling the gymnasium that was named for James Foley’s grandfather, John C. Foley.

Once one of Plymouth State’s most beloved athletic and academic leaders, according to the university, John C. Foley held many posts in his 30 years at the college, from English professor to dean of the college before he retired in 1978.

“Jim died defending our right to know the horrors of war. He devoted his life to educating, mentoring, and supporting the disadvantaged and the marginalized,” said John Foley.

Foley, in an often trembling voice, said his son’s death was “horrific,” but the journalist’s father refused to dwell on past events.

“He would also want us to be grateful for the possibilities that lie in all of our futures,” he said. “Graduates, this world needs you desperately. Please accept Jim’s challenge.”