Actor Tom Hanks delivered the Harvard University commencement speech for 2023 on Thursday, speaking about how the future leaders of America had a “responsibility” to seek the truth.
The 66-year-old celebrity sprinkled multiple superhero references into his speech as well. Hanks also received an honorary degree from Harvard.
“Every day, every year, and for every graduating class, there is a choice to be made, the same option for all grown-ups to make: to be one of three types of Americans — those who embrace liberty for all, those who won’t, or those who are indifferent,” Hanks began while addressing the graduating class at Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre, per The Harvard Gazette.
“Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union,” the “Forrest Gump” actor said. “We are all in a cage match, mixed martial arts battle royale with agents of intolerance and braying incompetence, the malevolent equals to Imperial stormtroopers, Lex Luthor, and Loki. And we could use a superhero right now.”
“There ain’t no Superman, nor anyone else in his Justice League,” Hanks said. “In the never-ending battle, you have all officially joined as of today. The difference is in how truly you believe, in how vociferously you promote, in how tightly you hold onto the truth that is self-evident: that of course we are all created equally yet differently, and of course, we are all in this together.”
“We all get to complain about The Man, and we all have debts we gotta pay, and we’re all entitled to a day off to lay about. But the work that is called for is the construction of our ‘more perfect union,’” he said, as the publication reported.
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“That job will never, ever be completed, one that requires rigorous attention and unfading wherewithal and all hands. The work is the keeping of the promises of our promised land, the practice of decency, the protection of freedom, and the promotion of liberty for all, with no exceptions. That takes a lot of work done on multiple job sites every single day, and you can call each of them a battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”
“For the truth to some is no longer empirical. It’s no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency,” the actor said. “Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service. 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.”
Hanks put the final burden on the graduating class, saying, “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.”