Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brandeis Graduation

For a variety of reasons I've never been to a college graduation ceremony until today when I went with my daughter and her husband to see their son, Joel, graduate from Brandeis. I expected familial pride and a lot of sitting listening to boring reading of names and honors. That was part of it but also fascinating people watching -- it was a BIG event in a big gym. Happily, a wonderfully varied and lengthy musical background accompanied marching in and settling down before the event -- everything from Handel to ethnic to rock, arranged both tastefully and amusingly.

It's a given that the speaker will say the equivalent of seize the day and take a responsible role in the world and that this will be forgotten along with all else except maybe who the speaker was if prominent enough a personage. In this case the speaker was Newark, New Jersey's relatively young mayor, Cory Booker. He was a wonderful speaker, he told personal stories that will not soon be forgotten, he recited an entire Langston Hughes poem apparently from memory -- he seemed to not be using notes at all. It was, in fact, a beautifully crafted and delivered speech. I was afraid early on he was going to lift the Obama "Hope" slogan and batter it to death but he did not -- one mention and he moved on to responsibility and, indeed, the seize the day theme, and ended with love -- of self and others. I totally enjoyed it.

Grandson, Joel, seemed very mature and confident -- he leaves for Washington tomorrow to take up a government job -- and to at least minimally furnish an apartment from Ikea and with kitchen and bathroom necessities we took with us for him. On the few occasions we've had a chance to talk in the last couple of years he's clearly got an education in world events, Arabic, Middle Eastern studies, philosophy, history his majors and minors. He's won many honors as a debater which has given him a self-confident air that is mature. I've always been attracted to smart, articulate people, so he makes me very happy and proud.

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