In 2023, Tom Hanks took the stage at Harvard University to deliver a commencement address that would leave a lasting impact on the graduating class. With his distinct charm and humor, Hanks captivated the audience as he shared his own journey and imparted valuable insights to the newest generation of graduates.

Despite not having attended Harvard, Hanks playfully acknowledged that he has made a successful living by portraying characters who did. He humorously thanked his alma maters, including Chabot Community College and California State University, for his educational foundation and the "bachelor of arts degree in one damn thing after another" that he earned at the School of Hard Knocks.

The Power of Superheroes and the Battle for Truth

Hanks drew inspiration from superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Black Panther, highlighting their ongoing battle for truth, justice, and the American Way. He emphasized that while there may not be real-life superheroes with extraordinary abilities, each individual possesses their own unique powers to effect change in the world.

Addressing the graduates directly, Hanks encouraged them to recognize their own strengths and abilities. He cited examples such as repairing a screen door, caring for children with unconditional love, making sense of complex subjects, surviving challenging circumstances, and graduating amidst the lockdowns of a pandemic.

The Work of Building a More Perfect Union

Hanks acknowledged the challenges faced by every graduating class throughout history and emphasized that the world is constantly in need of heroes to address its problems. He cautioned against complacency and indifference, pointing out that the work of creating a better society never truly ends.

The actor stressed that the American Way is not just a concept, but a call to action. It is exemplified in everyday acts of kindness, respect for the law, environmental consciousness, civic engagement, and learning from both victories and losses. Hanks reminded the graduates that the American Way is inclusive, regardless of gender, race, creed, color, chosen deities, or whom they love.

The Importance of Truth and the Threat of Indifference

Truth became a central theme of Hanks' address. He expressed concern over the growing prevalence of misinformation and the manipulation of facts to serve specific agendas. He reminded the graduates that truth is not subjective; it is based on empirical evidence, common sense, and common decency.

He also warned of the dangers of indifference, which he described as a lethal nemesis to truth. Indifference, he stated, narrows the vision of a nation and erodes the promises of liberty and freedom. He urged the graduates to reject indifference and embrace their role in upholding the truth, promoting justice, and safeguarding the American Way.