My family and I spent Monday at Boston College celebrating the graduation of our youngest daughter. And at Harvard, where I teach, thousands of graduates will parade to Harvard Yard in the annual rite of spring that never fails to remind that our young people are our greatest hope. Late May is an optimistic time when students emerge from commencement ceremonies to make their way in the world. This scene plays out in every American city, but especially here in the citadel of learning, Greater Boston, where higher education is our most vital industry.
Many of this week’s graduates may be too exhausted by round-the-clock celebrations and too distracted by the fanfare to remember much of what their graduation speakers tell them. And it is too much to ask that they focus on their cosmic responsibilities as citizens after receiving their diplomas. But, as we pass the symbolic baton of leadership to them in the years to come, there are at least two great national challenges the graduates will inherit that are worthy of reflection.