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SU remembers author McCourt

SU sent out the following speech as a remembrance of Frank McCourt the author and teacher who died in July. He also was one of the lecturers at the Library's annual Gifford Series.

Remarks by Frank McCourt at Syracuse University's 153rd Commencement and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry's 110th Commencement

May 13, 2007

Thank you, Chancellor. And thank you for placing me after one of the best and wittiest student speeches I've ever heard. (Applause) That's a cruel act.

But around the country now--all over this country--in colleges and universities and high schools and middle schools and elementary schools, even kindergartens--they graduate kindergarteners nowadays, with little hats and everything--there are commencement speakers who are saying to the students, "go forth." Have you ever heard a more useless invocation in your life? As if you were going to hang around here for the rest of your lives.

Of course you're going to go forth--that's what it's all about. You have your degree--baccalaureate, masters, Ph.D or whatever it is--and you have big plans. First of all, you have to have lunch. I hope you have it with the family. Some of you are embroiled in romance. Romances that are blooming, romances that are collapsing and, of course, that has to be taken care of too. Love prevails at times like this, and sometimes you're torn between your family and the loved one. Well, go with the family. The romance will pass, I assure you.

So, as the speakers exhort you, go forth. Well, maybe you're purposeful. I never had that sense of purpose myself. As a young man, I was kind of a wanderer; I went from one thing to another, one job to another. I suppose I engaged in that particular American activity called "finding myself." You'll probably find yourself if you have good luck. It's all over then. You don't have to do anything else if you've found yourself. So I think I've spent my life finding myself.

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