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A commencement speech crib sheet

Michael Bloomberg is set to address Harvard’s commencement this week. Just in case he’s not quite done with his speech, here’s a mash-up from the last 10.

Michael Bloomberg, the tycoon, anti-gun activist, son of Medford, and former New York City mayor, is set to address Harvard’s 363d commencement this week. Just in case you’re not quite done with your speech, Mr. Bloomberg, and still looking for ideas, here’s a mash-up from the last 10. In fact, you could just read this — it’s really quite inspiring.

Kofi Annan

Secretary-general of the United Nations, 2004

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press/File

To all of you I say: These are difficult times, but we can rise above them. We have much to be grateful for, much to be proud of, and much that we must keep safe, for future generations’ sake.


John Lithgow

Actor and author, 2005

David L. Ryan/GLOBE staff/file

In fact, I’m secretly counting on you to go out and make things right in this perilous, suffering world and in this deeply troubled nation.

Jim Lehrer

Journalist and author, 2006

David L. Ryan/GLOBE staff/file

I believe we should consider adopting some form of national service.

Bill Gates

Cofounder of Microsoft, 2007

I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world — the appalling disparities of health and wealth and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

J.K. Rowling

Author of the Harry Potter series, 2008

Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools.

Steven Chu

US secretary of energy, 2009

Darren McCollester/GETTY IMAGES

One of the cruelest ironies about climate change is that the ones who will be hurt the most are the most innocent: the world’s poorest and those yet to be born.

David Souter

Retired Supreme Court associate justice, 2010

A choice may have to be made, not because language is vague but because the Constitution embodies the desire of the American people, like most people, to have things both ways.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President of Liberia, 2011

Old templates of control have been overturned as states struggle internally with issues about national character and destiny.


Fareed Zakaria

Journalist and author, 2012

But one thing I do know is that human beings will reward and honor those talents of heart and mind they have always honored for thousands of years: intelligence, hard work, discipline, courage, loyalty, and, perhaps above all, love and a generosity of spirit.

Oprah Winfrey

Entrepreneur and talk show host, 2013

The point is your generation is charged with this task of breaking through what the body politic has thus far made impervious to change.