Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898 | SUBSCRIBE

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard, Jedi Knight

6.7.07


Photograph by Jim Harrison

Charles Joseph McNamara, 2007 graduate, delivers the Latin Oration (with translation) titled "Iohannes Harvard, Eques Iediensis" (John Harvard, Jedi Knight).

(English translation follows)

Praeses Bok, Decani et Professores, familiae et amici, atque omnes gradum suscepturi in hoc anno MMVII, salvete! Salvete et vos, imaginum mobilium cultores! Libenter vobis exhibeo aestivum nostrum spectaculum, quod agitur in orbis terrarum elegantissimo argenteo velamento, Theatro Tercentenario.  Sono circumiecto, actoribus similibus caeli astris, et foricis frequentatis fruamini. Nos hodie ad fabulae nostrae Harvardianae exitum stupefacientem advenimus.  Fabula autem nostra valde similis est argumento alterius fabulae. Illa enim pertinet ad arma virumque, et abhinc multum tempus incidit…procul longissime in via lactea. Vita nostra Harvardiana, videtis, similis est Bellis Stellaribus.

Abhinc quosdam annos, ad urbem Bostoniensem, universi rotae centrum, tamquam inexercitati equites Iedienses advenimus. Graphidum secundi ordinis copia numquam sociorum docentium atramenti rufi enses luciferos vincere potuit. Multi discipuli procul ab orbe natali primum erant. Quamquam spectaculi principes eramus, sollicitudines nostrae erant tam infinitae quam caeli stellae: “Quam personam ago?” “Litteras meas meminero?” “Quisnam  praecipit?”

Cito autem amicitias calidiores sole fabricavimus, quae superare tempora difficilia nos adiuverunt. Han Solo, tuus dilectissimus Utentium Auxiliator, te servavit cum tuum IBM RII-DII libellum tuum Miltonianum ederat. Filia Regis Leia, praeclara femina inter omnes vias lacteas, crines tuos compsit celerius luce ante primam saltationem tuam. Chewbacca etiam, habitator perennis in Sede Scientiae, prohibuit ne nota mathematica tua in transcripto lacuna nigra fieret.

Sed nos discipuli huius spectaculi gregis dimidia tantum pars eramus. Huius saeculi sapientiae Iediensis Antistites, magistri scilicet nostri, partes suas tam scite egerunt ut palmam ferre mererent. Multi eorum assimulabant Obi-Wano; curati enim lautique erant. Alii vero…Yodam sapiebant. Omnes autem nobis consilium sapientiamque in artibus suis donaverunt ut universi exempla ducesque fieremus.

Hodie ex optima academia Iediensi in tota via lactea gradum suscipimus. Haec universitas nos armat illa Vi, fortiore etiam Mortifera Stella Novi Portus. Pergamena nostra similia sunt veris luciferis ensibus: pretiosissima sunt, mirabilia sunt spectantibus, et eripere e manibus hostium orbem terrarum possunt. Sapienter novis armis vestris utimini, socii Lucae Caelum Perambulantes.

Fabula nostrae vitae Harvardianae iam ad finem vergit et ad participium indicem. Ante disceditis, ne oblivisicimini agere gratias fautoribus benignissimis—parentes nostros dico—qui nos hanc fabulam agentes largiter sustinuerunt. Atque hoc spectaculum non ultimum est! Alumnorum Conlegium iam in fabularum officina laborat ut redire ad theatrum velimus et partibus sequentibus fruamur. Omnibus in corona sedentibus, gratias vobis agimus quod nostrum spectaculum tam benevole videritis. Precor ut illa Vis Harvardiana semper vobiscum sit!

President Bok, Deans and Faculty, Family and Friends, and Graduates of the Class of 2007, welcome! Welcome to you, too, moviegoers! I'm happy to introduce to you the spectacle of the summer, playing on the world's finest silver screen, Tercentenary Theater. Enjoy the surround sound, the star performers, and the crowded bathrooms. Today, we are reaching the jaw-dropping climax of our Harvard story. In fact, our story is just like that of another movie. That story concerns arms and a man, and it took place a long time ago...in a galaxy far, far away. Our Harvard experience, you see, is just like Star Wars.

Some years ago, we came to Boston, the Hub of the Universe, as untrained Jedi Knights. Our supply of Number 2 pencils could never overcome the red-ink lightsabers of teaching fellows. Many students were away from their home planet for the first time. We were the stars of the show, but our worries were as infinite as the stars in the sky: "What role am I playing?" "Will I remember my lines?" "Who the heck is directing?"

Soon, however, we forged friendships warmer than the sun, and they helped us get through the tough times. Han Solo, your favorite User Assistant, came to the rescue when your IBM R2-D2 ate your Milton paper. Princess Leia, intergalactic socialite, fixed your hair faster than the speed of light before your first formal dance. Even Chewbacca, permanent resident of the Science Center, kept your math grade from becoming a black hole on your transcript.

But we students were only half the cast of this show. The Jedi Masters of this generation, our teachers, gave award-winning performances. Many professors were like Obi-Wan; they were groomed and stately. Other professors...they were like Yoda. But they all gave us guidance and wisdom in their arts so that we might become examples and leaders of the universe.

Today, we are graduating from the best Jedi Academy in the galaxy. Harvard University is giving us The Force, one even stronger than the Death Star in New Haven. Our sheepskins are, in fact, just like real-life light-sabers: they are expensive, they impress audiences, and they can save the world from the hands of enemies. Use your new weapons wisely, my fellow Luke Skywalkers.

Now our Harvard story is coming to its conclusion and fading to the credits. Before you leave, don't forget to thank the gracious patrons - I mean our parents - who supported this production so generously. And indeed, this is not the last show! The Alumni Association is already working at the storyboard so that we return to the theater and enjoy the sequels. To all of you sitting out there, thanks for being a great audience. May The Harvard Force be with you all!