"The old lioness by the Charles has not lost her wit, and the young lions will not fail." The very homeliness of this characterization made by President Lowell is striking. Here for decades Harvard has nourished her sons, trained them in the lore of the past and directed them into the paths of the future. When the call came for men to defend this home, the young lions did not fail. 7,523 set behind them their personal desires. They left comforts and opportunities to face the most gigantic war which modern science could produce. They did not wait until convenience allowed them to go. They left the instant necessity called them. Since 1914 Harvard has bid her sons God-speed on this great adventure.
The tide of battle pushed the Huns back. They yielded. Victory came. Now those of the noble brood who did not give up their lives on the field of honor are returning. With sober face, Harvard bids them back. She realizes that they have gained in power and wisdom that which would have taken her years to give them. But for their own benefit she is encouraging them to return to the detailed study of facts upon which success in life is based. At the same time she has made it as easy as possible for them to enter the courses which the University offers. And now, as a fitting recognition of her trust in her sons' worth, she is to grant those who left for service a degree "honoris causa" upon the completion of three-fourths of their work.
Those who receive this degree will be fully aware of its peculiar significance and value. It means that the University has confidence enough in these young lions to grant them an honor which she is sure their own diligence would have won if the opportunity had been given. It means more. That degree has been won not alone by a man's own sacrifice, nor the sacrifice of our thousands of warriors. It has been bought with the blood of 278 of our own class-mates, and with the lives of that host of dead.
No man, not worthy, would dare lay claim to such a solemn honor. All those who do, take upon themselves the holy vow to live "honoris causa".