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Tom Hanks gives Harvard commencement speech, tells grads to defend the truth: 'The responsibility is yours'

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Actor Tom Hanks was the keynote speaker at Harvard University’s commencement on Thursday, where he urged more than 9,000 members of the Class of 2023 to fight for the truth and stand up for those who oppose it.

Speaking to the school’s latest graduates at Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre, Hanks said the way society views truth has changed and claimed some people no longer see its value.

“Every day, every year, and every graduating class, there is a choice to be made, the same choice for all adults: to be one of three types of Americans—those who embrace freedom for all, those who will not , or who are indifferent,” Hanks said.

He added: “Only the first serves to create a more perfect union.”

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The two-time Academy Award winner peppered his speech with several superhero references – the genre of which has become prominent in Hollywood – to suggest that it is up to ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

“We’re all in a cage match, mixed martial arts battle royale with agents of intolerance and incompetence, the malevolent equivalent of Imperial Stormtroopers, Lex Luthor and Loki,” Hanks said. And we could use a superhero right now. ” The Gazette reported.

“There is no Superman, and neither is anyone else in his Justice League,” he said. “In the never-ending battle you all have officially joined today, the difference is how much you truly believe, how vociferously you preach, how firmly you hold on to the truth that is self-evident: Surely we are all created equally yet differently, and certainly, we are all in this together.”

Hanks said that fighting for the truth was “not fair”, but encouraged the graduates to “not be bitter about the fact”.

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“We all complain about The Man, and we all have debts to pay, and we all deserve a day off. ‘” he said, according to the Gazette. “That work will never be done, which requires rigorous attention and unfailing means and all hands. The work is to fulfill the promises of our promised land, practice decency, safeguard liberty, and promote liberty.” . For everyone, without exception. It takes a lot of work every day on multiple job sites, and you could call each of them a fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

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Hanks, who received an honorary doctorate of arts from the school, also said that some people in public office use the truth as a blasphemous medium.

The iconic actor said, “For some people, truth is no longer empirical. It is no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency.” “Telling the truth is no longer the norm for public service. It is no longer the solution to our fears, or the guide to our actions. Truth is now regarded as reprehensible, by opinion and by zero-sum ends.”

and: “The responsibility is yours. Ours. Effort is optional. But truth, truth is sacred. Unalterable. Hewn in stone and is the foundation of our republic.”

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In his remarks, Hanks also referenced the fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, whom he portrayed in the three films of “The Da Vinci Code” series.

Hanks said, “Now, without doing a little bit of work, without spending any time in a classroom, without ever going into that library—anything to do with Harvard’s graduating class, its faculty, or its distinguished alumni— I make a pretty good living playing someone who’s done that.”

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Hanks starred in three films based on Dan Brown’s books: “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons” and “Inferno.”

On a lighter note, the actor made a reference to the Bible ending his speech, “May goodness and kindness be with you every day. All the days of your life. Godspeed.”

Harvard President Larry Bacow also attended the commencement. It was his last before he stepped down in late June. He has served as the school’s president for five years.

Beko said, “I’ve never met anyone who thinks the world we live in is perfect.” “This statement is equally true for liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, and those across the political spectrum. So, if you believe that this world is imperfect, the only way to make it better is to be as good as you are.” People should work to rectify it. It is your responsibility now.”

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Claudine Gay, currently serving as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will become the next President on 1 July.

Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.