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This cannot be for everyone. Everyone isn't here. Consequently, today the Vagabond directs his musings towards some 650 graduating seniors. This is to be his own private and inconspicuous valedictory.
These young men of Harvard are but a tiny fraction of the 148,000 others who are graduating from the colleges and universities of America this month. They leave behind them tomorrow a few names already famous, many more destined to become famous in the future, some who will be failures, a sprinkling of ditch-diggers-to-be. In return for four years here they have left behind several thousand dollars at Lehman Hall, a few really grand moments which the newspapers, the public, and their fellows have sometimes made grander, sometimes ignored. And now, Harvard--a hundred assorted buildings, a thousand heterogeneous individuals on the Faculty, countless millions of ideas in limbo and ideas in concrete--you, Harvard, they leave behind.
With them goes a roomful of battered furnishings which have made theirs the gayest or the most peaceful room in the whole college; a sheaf of notes--the ones from that certain course which really made them feel they knew something about something, which they couldn't quite bring themselves to throw out after the last exam, and which now represent the sole tangible total of a thousand lectures and a thousand hours in the libraries--their college education in final essence. And the name of Harvard, that which they can never lose now, graven on a sheet of parchment and 650 young hearts--that goes with them too.
They are taking more than they leave behind. The memories of raw November football weekends, the Charles at dawn, Widener and Memorial Church at eve with melodic voices, Mallinckrodt at high noon, Radcliffe and Wellesley and Smith in their most festive moments. A visit to the Dean, lunch with a tutor, the words of a great man speaking brilliantly and earnestly, the tolling of a thousand bells, a broken window and a flooded bathroom, a Goodman rhapsody and a Schubert symphony. Things they wrote home about--marks, athletics, money, and evasions. And things they didn't---applause that pleaded for more at the Old Howard, the overdue library book, the one waitress who brought boiled eggs that tasted homey, the girl picked up unexpectedly at the House dance, the unfortunate encounter with the Yard Cop . . .
All this and much, much more. Infinite variations of the theme. The ebb and flow of one life during four hectic and fleeting years in the most stubborn, parsimonious, tyrannical, antediluvian, irritating, tractable, generous, democratic, progressive, lovable university in America. To those who will become only a name with numerals on a card index file and a musty bluebook--goodbye. Your worthwhile additions to college life, and there were some, will be remembered; the rest forgotten. You are not Harvard any more. But you are, always Harvard's.
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