Focus on the BIG picture.

0:00
0:00

Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain

“For the truth to some is no longer empirical. It’s no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency,” said the two-time Academy Award winner during his keynote address. He invoked the Latin word for truth, “veritas,” Harvard’s motto.
“Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service,” he said. “It’s no longer the salve to our fears, or the guide to our actions. Truth is now considered malleable, by opinion and by zero sum endgames.”

That left the more than 9,000 graduates at Harvard’s 372nd commencement with a choice to make, said the Hollywood icon, who has played an astronaut, a soldier, a little boy in a man’s body and even a Harvard professor in a decades-long movie career.

“It’s the same option for all grownups who have to decide to be one of three types of Americans: Those who embrace liberty and freedom for all; those who won’t; or those who are indifferent,” he said. “Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union, a nation indivisible. The others get in the way.”

Near the end of the speech, he drove the point home to a group that included not just undergraduates but those who graduated from Harvard’s professional and extension schools.

“The responsibility is yours. Ours. The effort is optional. But the truth, the truth is sacred. Unalterable. Chiseled into the stone and the foundation of our republic,” he said.

Hanks, who was awarded an honorary doctor of arts degree, poked fun at his own lack of academic credentials on a stage filled with some of the world’s brightest minds and most accomplished scientists.

“It’s not fair, but please don’t be embittered by this fact,” Hanks said. “Now, without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library — in order to have anything to do with the graduating class of Harvard, its faculty, or its distinguished alumni — I make a damn good living playing someone who did,” he said in reference to his depiction of fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon in three movies based on Dan Brown’s novels — “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons” and “Inferno.”

“It’s the way of the world, kids,” he said to a chorus of laughter.

Before Hanks headed to the podium to give his speech, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, presiding over his last commencement before stepping down, called Hanks, “Wilson’s bestie, Buzz’s buddy, Ryan’s savior, America’s dad,” and presented him with a Harvard volleyball, in tribute to his role in “Cast Away,” where to stay sane his character talks to an old volleyball.

Hanks proved to be the most popular person on stage, posing for selfies with faculty members before the ceremony and giving congratulatory fist bumps to dozens of Harvard students who graduated summa cum laude.

“May goodness and mercy follow you all the days,” he said, referencing a biblical verse. “All the days of your lives. Godspeed.”
Newsletter

Related Articles

0:00
0:00
Close
ASEAN to Finalize South China Sea Code by 2025
Russian Warships in Cuba for Military Exercises
Trump's Lawyers Argue Hush Money Gag Order Restricts Campaign Speech
Biden Arrives in Italy for G7 Summit
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Google Tests Anti-Theft AI for Phones in Brazil
Elon Musk Withdraws Lawsuit Against OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman
Pope Francis Repeats Offensive Term Against Gay People
Jill Biden: The Steadfast Pillar of the Biden Family
Polish Daredevil Arrested While Scaling Buenos Aires Building
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
Elon Musk's X Introduces 'Private Likes'
Climate Misinformation Impacts Perception of Record Floods Globally
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
Dozens Arrested at UCLA During Pro-Palestinian Protests
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
Four Iowa College Staff Stabbed in Jilin City, China
Hunter Biden's Conviction: A Critical Juncture for President Joe Biden
Hunter Biden Convicted of Lying to Buy Gun
Suspect Arrested After 4 American Teachers Stabbed in China
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
President Biden Comments on Son Hunter's Gun Conviction
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Austrian Airlines Plane Damaged by Hailstorm During Flight
Elephants Use Individual Names to Communicate Amid Herds
Hunter Biden's Defense Attorney Criticizes Prosecutors' Case
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Australian PM Condemns Vandalism of US Consulate in Sydney
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
IDF Successfully Rescues Four Hostages in Complex Operation
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
Brazilian Politician Joins Online Meeting from Toilet: A Bizarre Incident
Elon Musk May Leave Tesla If $56 Billion Pay Package is Rejected
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
×