The actor drew headlines in March for being one of the first celebrities to announce that they had contracted the novel coronavirus, alongside his wife Rita Wilson. Hanks’ message was for seniors around the country who could not graduate in person due to the ongoing pandemic.
“You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures,” he 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 — ‘Well, that was back before the COVID-19. That was before the great pandemic.’ 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 Beyoncé.’ The word ‘before’ is going to carry great weight with you…Sometimes, if we all remain good Americans, you will continue on into the ‘after.’ As in ‘that was after the virus was tamed,’ ‘after we were safe to go out again,’ ‘after we took up our probable lives once more.'”
He continued: “You will be enlightened in ways your degree from Wright State never held in promise. 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. You chosen ones are going to form the new structures, and define the new realities and make the new world. The world after all that we have been through. The future is always uncertain, but we who celebrate what you have done, we are certain of one thing on this day — you will not let us down. Thank you, congratulations, way to go.”