WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (The Exponent) – Commencement week is an occasion for joy, as a new chapter in life opens, but simultaneously a time of wistfulness, as some things happen for the last time: the last class, the last exam, the last party. Of course, not all endings are sad; those parents who have now written their last tuition check are all smiles, and deservedly so. Can we salute all those family members who have played such a big role in the successes we are about to celebrate?
Here’s something else for us all to celebrate. For much of history, these ceremonies, including speeches like this one, were conducted in Latin. I love tradition, but that’s one you and I can both be glad has seen its day. Of course, there were ways to work around it. Andrew Jackson, the common man’s president, was ambushed at Harvard by a pompous dean who challenged him to accept his honorary degree in Latin. Jackson was up to the moment: “E pluribus unum, my friends,” he said. “Sine qua non.” And sat down.
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