Tom Hanks Receives Honorary Degree From Harvard

The veteran actor sends off Harvard’s graduating class of 2023 and receives an honorary doctorate degree.

“There ain’t no Superman, nor anyone else in his Justice League,” said Tom Hanks, addressing Harvard’s latest graduating class. Throughout his speech, he sprinkled in metaphors using popular superhero culture, talking about how they could use some champions in the fight for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

As the principal speaker at Harvard’s 372nd Commencement held last Thursday, the actor urged the graduating students to keep “the promise of our promised land,” saying that indifference “kills truth” and “endangers the struggle for equality.”

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Tom Hanks Harvard commencement speech
Image via Harvard’s official website

“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—and only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union,” 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.”

Tom Hanks with the Harvard volleyball
Image via Instagram @harvard

Over 9,000 people were present at the ceremony where the actor also received an honorary doctorate of arts degree. He jokingly asked the graduates not to be “embittered” because he was given a degree “without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library.”

But he made a “damn good living playing someone who did,” he added. This is in reference to his character Robert Langdon, a fictional Harvard professor, from the Da Vinci Code franchise.

Hanks’ keynote speech was a perfect mix of humor and honesty. In return, he was given a Harvard-branded Wilson volleyball, referencing one of his best-known roles in the 2000 film Cast Away.

Banner image via Harvard University‘s website.

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