Harvard Notes By Jeff Benitz
Harvard's Commencement is coming up this Thursday,
June 8. They have always had an interesting history
in who they choose as the Commencement Day speaker. A
school that can pull in any person in the world, Kings
and Queens, Presidents, they often pick someone who is
relatively small in the big picture. They don't care
about people who are famous they care about people who
This years speaker is Jim Lehrer. Jim Lehrer is
easily the most competent news anchor since Walter
Chronkite. There's a reason he is chosen to moderate
the Presidential debates.
Lehrer was born in Kansas and grew up in Texas. He
went to public university and served honorably in the
US Marine Corps. Yes, Jim Lehrer was a Marine. I
think he is the only news anchor in the last 30 years
with military service. After newspaper writing he
moved to PBS and has been there for 35 years. He has
written 14 books.
His choice as Commencement speaker is superb. One of
the things they beat into your head at Harvard is
public service and the "social contract". If you went
to Harvard only to get rich, they make sure you feel
guilty about it the rest of your life.
Jim Lehrer is an example of objectivity and
excellence. He speaks with credibility, he has served
his country, and he has not looted the system. Many
go to Public Television to make a name and then take
off to syndicated T.V. to make millions. Lehrer
hasn't done that. He proved, "Temptation resisted is
a true measure of character". The President and
Fellows of Harvard clearly had this in mind when they
chose him. He reinforces the virtues Harvard is trying
to teach. Sadly, I won't be there to hear him speak.
It's near impossible to get tickets to Commencement.
Even graduating students only get three. The student
needs one to get in and that leaves two for the whole
family. It makes for hard decisions.
The steps on which the President and Fellows of
Harvard assemble are those of Memorial Church. The
degrees are granted under the shadow of this building.
It is a huge brick church dedicated to the Harvard
men who fell in the Great War.
In these times, it is appropriate a former Service
member will stand and address an audience from these
If I may engage in some snobbery, Stanford (the self
proclaimed Harvard of the west and not an Ivy League
college, has Tom Brokaw for Commencement). Bill
Clinton is speaking at Princeton's. HA! HA! HA!
If I were graduating from those schools I would demand