Commencement Speaker: Mr. Rogers
Yes, Mr. Rogers. I could hardly contain my excitement sitting out in the quad area of Boston University's main campus. It was a hot day in May at my cousin's graduation ceremony. Mr. Rogers created such a buzz in this big gathering. Everyone couldn't stop talking about him. Before the ceremony began, we all shared our favorite memory of his tv show. I grew up with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, as I'm sure a good many of my readers did. The show didn't have all the bells & whistles of The Electric Company and no Big Bird from Sesame Street. But, it was just as special. As a kid, I wanted so badly to ride the trolley, visit the Land of Make Believe and meet Prince Tuesday & King Friday.
Mr. Rogers started his address by commenting what a beautiful day it was and then he gave us our cue to sing along. All of us - maybe 4,000 or so in total from different parts of the world - singing in unison -
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Won't you be mine? Could you be mine?"
I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment.
He gave a beautiful commencement speech asking us to remember those who believed in us and brought us to where we are now. He advised the Class of 1992 and their family & friends that everything is not going to go as planned. He said that it is our attitude that determines our altitude in life. I loved that. It is so true.
At the end, he treated us to one final song that is a favorite of mine:
"It's you I like.
It's not the things you wear.
It's not the way you do your hair
But it's you I like.
The way you are right now
The way down deep inside you.
Not the things that hide you.
Not your caps and gowns,
They're just beside you.
But it's you I like.
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you remember
Even when you're feeling blue.
That it's you I like,
It's you, yourself
It's you I like."
I read someplace that the message in that song was that you don't have to do anything sensational for people to love you. In my blog today, I'd like to embrace my hippy dippy "Free to Be You And Me" past and say - it was Mr. Rogers that I liked and a graduation that I will always remember.
This week we were asked to think about graduation. It didn't have to be mine and it didn't have to be high school. It had to be non-fiction, so you know this is true. I almost wrote about the graduation that I attended at Brown University and we saw Ringo Starr, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner on the same day. It was a tough choice, but this story is much more meaningful to me. Concrit welcome.