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Mayor Bloomberg gives the commencement address to the first graduation class of Sunset Park High School.
Listen to our interview with George Saunders - about the graduation speech on kindness he gave - here. And our call-in segment asking you about your graduation can be found here.
The Irish poet Seamus Haney (PENN '00). At the time, I did not appreciate just who he was. I wish I could revisit that speech.
The Historian Edward Whiting Fox spoke at my college graduation in 1964. The line I remember was "Do't let others write your history for you." Fix taught Western Civ. It concluded w WWII and the Nazis. The message was that the average German citizen abdicated responsibility. As the Vietnam War was about to begin, I believe we took this message to heart in the student protests that followed.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was the commencement speaker when I graduated from Rutgers College in 1990. He was an alum and spoke about cutting classes to go to Monmouth Park. He said that he we should take chances in our careers. His example was leaving a partnership in a law firm to become inhouse counsel for a client (the NBA)which was going through a difficult time.
Bob Dylan got an honorary degree at my graduation but didn't speak (that's the tradition). Not long after, he did write a song about the experience, "Day of the Locusts," with a line that was very meaningful to me back then: "Sure was glad to get out of there alive."
I graduated from American University in 1988. Helen Hayes was to give the commencement address. She couldn't come. The Salutatorian was unable to give her speech (I forget the reason). So, the University President - Richard Berenzen - gave three speeches that day. Without a doubt the longest commencement ceremony on record.
"Miss Manners" aka Judith Martin spoke at our 1985 York College of Pennsylvania graduation. At the time, I was terribly dissapointed, wanting a speaker of a more celebrated stature from industry, entertainment or politics. But in retrospect, Miss Manners was perfect for our class of rude and carelss fraternity, sorority and college party kidz. I believe President Iosue was right on target summoning Miss Manners for our last lesson.
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