It just occurs to me, seeing these academic faces, both of people I know and many I don't, that there's a point to this pomp and formality. It can be a catalyst for endeavors beyond the call of duty - to service to what these individuals find to be their personal lodestone, conecting them back to the core of why they have entered into these careers, what they deeply care about. And channeling that sort of engagement and commitment is like creating a laser beam.
We do so much need something to believe in and care about, something to bring us together for the common good, something to help ease us past our petty daily preoccupations.
May this day, and all of our institutional ceremonies (in this, our national civil religion), help bring out what is brave and good in us.