Tom Hanks Delivers Moving Virtual Commencement Speech For Ohio University

by Julie Scagell
om Hanks Gives Perfect Graduation Speech For The Class Of 2020
Wright State University/Twitter

Tom Hanks called the seniors the “chosen ones”

Tom Hanks has had a busy few months. After he and wife, Rita Wilson, both battled the coronavirus, they also donated plasma to help fight the virus. Hanks then kicked off Saturday Night Live’s first at home show, and most recently joined Michelle Obama’s #Votingsquad. Now, he’s delivered a touching speech to the 2020 graduating class of Wright State University, and his message was one of hope and perseverance for all 2020 seniors.

Dayton, Ohio’s Wright State University seniors got an unexpected surprise from Hanks — a commencement speech delivered from his home to theirs. The University posted the speech on Twitter, showing Hanks speaking directly to their students with a message that all of us need. “Congratulations to you chosen ones. . . . You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures,” Hanks began. “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 just that way.”

Hanks went on to say that he was calling them the ‘chosen ones’ because they have been chosen in many ways. “First, by the temperament and discipline you’ve lived by, by the creative fires that are inside of you and the instinctive lunges of your desires… You succeeded because of the aid and the love of others that are in your lives, without a doubt. But you have succeeded mostly because you, and you alone, chose to do so.”

The actor also explained that this time we’re all living through will be a turning point in their lives. “Part of your lives will forever be identified as ‘before,'” Hanks said. “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 also pointed out that, although things seem uncertain and frustrating, the class of 2020 will be able to use this to their advantage later in life. “You will be enlightened in ways your degree from Wright State never held in promise,” he said. “You will have made it through the time of great sacrifice and great need, and no one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our measure of normalcy than you, you chosen ones.”

Hanks has had a long-standing relationship with the university. In 2016, he visited the school to dedicate the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures, and also led a fundraising campaign that raised more than $167 million for the school, according to CNN.

“The future is always uncertain,” Hanks said in closing. “But we who celebrate what you have done, who celebrate all of your achievements, we are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down.”