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Though there is never a time not to be patriotic, there are seasons when it is more in the public eye. In May, we celebrate Memorial Day, which, contrary to the opinions of most advertisers, was not founded for the purpose of selling mattresses and plasma TVs at rock-bottom prices. In June, we have Flag Day, which commemorates June 14, 1777, when the United States approved the design for its first national flag. And in July comes the greatest American holiday, July 4th, Independence Day, in which we celebrate the founding of our nation
It is possible that the most patriotic speech made at this time was not billed as such. This was actor Tom Hanks’ commencement speech before the 2023 graduating class at Harvard, in which he urged the graduates to become the superheroes fighting for truth, justice and the American way by defending something that has been increasingly under attack in our nation: Truth, Latin name Veritas.
“The truth to some is no longer empirical,” Hanks said. “It’s no longer based on data nor common sense nor even common decency. Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service. … Truth is now considered malleable by opinion and by zero-sum endgames. Imagery is manufactured with audacity and with purpose to achieve the primal task of marring the truth with mock logic, to achieve with fake expertise, with false sincerity, with phrases like, ‘I’m just saying. Well, I’m just asking. I’m just wondering.'”
We’ve mentioned some of this before, the AI manufacture of deepfakes designed to convince people that black is white, that absurdity is sane. But the trend has been around longer than the latest technology. It’s been more than six years since someone put lipstick and a new dress on a pig by calling obvious lies “alternative facts.”
Hanks was urging the graduates, and the rest of us as well, to join the battle for American ideals by standing up for honesty, honor and transparency. Click on the link to his speech above. It is warm, funny, inspiring, and above all, patriotic.