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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained



Today the Senior, for one short space, is supreme. He has gone through his hardest examinations, the ordeal of distinguishing between pink and white and yellow and green tickets, and of memorizing an intricate program of events. He has safely established his retinue of visitors at convenient or less convenient distances, and snatched a brief sleep after a strenuous and brilliant evening. The program of the day gives the center of the stage to 1923. Undergraduates linger only under tolerance, for the responsible function of ushering or the irresponsible one of satisfying an idle curiosity. The assembled graduates may lord it on Thursday to their hearts content, and in their respective reunions today outside Cambridge. But when they gather this afternoon it will be as mere onlookers at the initiation of a new class to their federated midst.

Today is the Senior's from the sounding of the first bugle. The chapel for once is his alone; the program at Sanders Theatre has been chosen by himself and the audience are his guests. At the Tree he will learn the inner secrets of his classmates, he will pay his patronizing respects to the Yard, and take the place of honor at the rear in the march to Soldiers Field. In the Stadium it will be his turn to show his paces before his elders of '93 and '98 and '08 and '13 and all the other reunited classes. When he returns to his respective spreads, he will be the host; and in the Yard the entertainment will be provided by his own hard-working Class Day Committee.

During the day he will be reminded of his duties to Harvard and the world, of his opportunities and advantages. He will be exhorted to a finer life, informed that the Spirit of Youth will conquer, that the comradeship of truth and wisdom are his light in the darkness. He will go to his room in the late evening and tell over the same old stories, sleep as stolidly as usual, and go down to Soldiers Field the next afternoon to cheer the baseball team like an ordinary undergraduate. But it will have been a great Class Day, the greatest in years.

And if it rains? He will be the chief mourner, and to him as host will fall the task of putting the program through as comfortably as possible under difficulties. It is the Senior's day.

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