Like pretty much every other student set to graduate this summer, seniors on their way out of Ohio's Wright State University had their in-person ceremony called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they had to go the virtual route, meaning things were set to be just as boring without the in-person moment of glory or random air horns from crazy people.
Of course, we say were in that sentence because an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise came in the form of Academy Award winner/celebrity coronavirus survivor Tom Hanks showing up to wish grads well. Note that Hanks had a previous relationship with the school, after they honored him with the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures in 2016.
"You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures,” the Hollywood legend said. “You started in the olden times, in a world back before the Great Pandemic of 2020. You will talk of those earlier years in your lives in just that way."
"Part of your lives will forever be identified as 'before,' in the same way other generations tell time like 'that was before the war, or 'that was before the internet,' or 'that was before Beyoncé.' The word 'before' is going to carry great weight with you," he added.
"You’ve gone from student to graduate with more that is expected of you than to just be an American. You’ve had to be responsible Americans. You’ve had to be good Americans. Good Americans that have made sacrifices that have saved lives.
"You'll reference these past weeks for how many other weeks there are to come as 'during the pandemic.' During the COVID-19, during the lockdown, the quarantine, the shelter-in-place.' But your 'after' is not going to look the same as your during and your 'before.'
"You will be enlightened in ways your degree never held in promise. You will have made it through a time of great sacrifice and great need. No one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our normalcy than you — our chosen ones."
Back in what seemed like years ago (but was actually less than two months earlier) Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, reported that they'd recorded positive tests for the coronavirus while the former was filming a movie in Australia. After a few weeks in quarantine, they recovered from the disease. They've both since returned to Los Angeles and have shared pictures of themselves donating blood for the purpose of helping others recover.