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Before the first Yale batsman faces Harvard this afternoon 5000 men will march, or cavort about Soldiers Field. They are members of all the classes holding reunions: some are here for their third-year reunion, some for their sixth, some for their fiftieth. One might assume that such a parade is at least as important as the athletic contest it precedes. Indeed, it should be. It is a homecoming celebration.
The University's returned alumni knew the rooms in the Yard or down by the river as home for nine months in each of four years. That was residence in the material sense: in the sense of the Bursar's card, the numbered stadium ticket, the study card, and the room key. But in another, less easily defined sense, they've remained resident, commencement notwithstanding. They return, and a part of each still feels at home, in the rooms in the Yard or down by the river.
And the celebration ... each alumnus again meets his friends and renews the warmth of acquaintanceship, while also partaking a bit of the spirit which the years may have worn off his outlook on life. At the same time, the University shares some of his maturity, becoming for a few days a community of experienced men, men with broader points of view, men who positively affect rather than passively submit to learning. Reunions add not merely to the traditions of the University, but contribute also to the character of its community, to each of its citizens.
Yet, alumni could hardly be said to be thinking of these points today, or any day this week. They have largely returned to enjoy themselves, to show off the College to their families and to show off their families to their friends. And surely no one would blame them.
One would rather welcome them. One would point out handsome new buildings to them, and explain the workings of the cyclotron and the calculator to their families. One would tell them why some of the Yard's old trees have been felled, and why the ginger bread is missing from the Memorial Hall tower. One would be mindful the whole while that changes are relative; when weighed against all that Harvard means to its students and alumni, they hardly jiggle the scale.
One would welcome the whole parade, not just '25--the 25th is always adequately welcomed anyway. So we welcome them all: the reunions of the third, the sixth, the tenth, and every fifth year thereafter--and the fiftieth, and the seventy-fifth.
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