Tom Hanks has bounced back from COVID-19 and, with his reassuring everyman goodness, is delivering encouraging words to the class of 2020.
The acclaimed actor gave a 5-minute speech, which was posted on Wright State University’s Facebook page on May 2. In the speech, he called the new graduates “the chosen ones” because of their matriculation during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The video was played as a surprise during the May 2 virtual ceremony for Wright State’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, but was also shared with the whole university.
“You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures,” Hanks said in the Facebook video.
His short and mostly serious talk referenced the time before, during and after COVID-19’s impact.
“Part of your lives will forever be identified as ‘before’ in the same way other generations tell time. Like: ‘Well, that was before the war.’ Or ‘That was before the Internet.’ Or ‘That was before Beyonce,’” he said, throwing in a bit of humor.
Hanks told the college graduates that their living “during the restructuring of time and of science, of our own national will and of a worldwide commonwealth” means that “no one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our measure of normalcy than you.”
The actor, wearing a shirt and tie, noted that graduates are joining the workforce just as others are recovering and re-taking up the hard work and responsibilities of regular life.
“You chosen ones are going to form the new structure and define the new realities and make the new world, the world after all that we have been through,” he concluded. “The future is always uncertain but … we are certain of one thing on this day, you will not let us down.”
If you’re wondering why Hanks choose to give a commencement-like speech to Wright State, the actor has some longstanding ties to the Dayton, Ohio-area public university.
“He’s a friend of the university, having worked with many of our faculty and alumni. We also have the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures on our Dayton campus,” commented Wright State University’s Facebook account in response to another poster’s question about Hanks’ connection with the school.
Hanks’ first professional acting jobs were with Cleveland’s Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. Hanks performed with the company at Wright State in 1978. The university’s longtime theater department chair and professor, Stuart McDowell, also directed Hanks in his first New York City stage production in 1979.
Wright State University’s president, Sue Edwards, thanked Hanks for sending the message to the school’s class of 2020.
“Well this does not happen every day,” she wrote on Twitter. “What a truly VERY HEART FELT & SPECIAL gesture.”
Well this does not happen every day. A special thank you to Stuart McDowell, Joe Deer and Mr. Hanks @tomhanks What a truly VERY HEART FELT & SPECIAL gesture 💛💚 @wsucola #Thankful #WrightStateGrad2020 https://t.co/PB0JR4nWhD
— President Sue Edwards (@WSUPrezSue) May 2, 2020
Among other recent acts of coronavirus goodness, Hanks sent a young boy being bullied for his name, Corona, a letter and a Corona typewriter. He’s also been donating his plasma after recovering from COVID-19, which he and his wife, Rita Wilson, caught while in Australia on a film project.
Congratulations to the class of 2020, which will surely be receiving plenty of additional accolades and making unique memories as the season continues.