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Tom Hanks honors 2020 graduates with virtual Ohio commencement speech: ‘The chosen ones’

The actor offered an inspiring message to the graduates at Wright State University, and it's gaining attention around the world.
Tom Hanks arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKYC) — The class of 2020 is ending their college career in a way they certainly never expected.

As virtual commencement ceremonies are becoming the norm amid coronavirus, Tom Hanks delivered a special video message Saturday to the 2020 graduating class at Wright State University in Dayton.

His message, which surrounds a "chosen ones" theme, is making headlines globally for its inspiring tone that everybody can learn from in these uncertain times.

Here is his speech in full (watch his speech by scrolling down):

I’m here to say congratulations. Congratulations to you chosen ones. I am calling you the chosen ones because you have been chosen in many ways. First, by the temperament and discipline you’ve lived by, by the creative fires that are inside of you and the instinctive lunges of your desires. There is something about you – all of you – in your upbringing and your background and your conscious memories and your ongoing mysteries, something that has driven you to complete your courses and achieve your selected challenges and cross the rubicon of your time there, your studies at Wright State.

You succeeded because of the aid and the love of others that are in your lives, without a doubt. But you’ve succeeded mostly because you, and you alone, chose to do so. You are the chosen ones. You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures. You started in the olden times, in the world back before the great pandemic of 2020. You will talk of those earlier years in your lives 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. That was before the internet. That was before Beyonce.” The word "before" is going to carry great weight with you.

Today, you mark your graduation, which has come during the restructuring of time and of science, of our own national will and of a worldwide commonwealth. You have finished Wright State during the great reset, the great reboot. You’ve gone from student to graduate when more has been expected of you than to just be an American. You have had to be responsible Americans. You have had to be good Americans. Good Americans who made the sacrifices that have saved lives.

You’ll reference these past weeks, for however many weeks there are yet to come, as during the pandemic, during the COVID-19, during the lock down, during the quarantine, during the shelter in place. Sometime, 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. But your after is not going to look the same as your during or as your before. You will have seen the movie and you will know how it ends. 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 have not returned to the starting line like all of us generations before you. You are just approaching it now for the first time. You have just arrived. You are chosen in that way to enter into the competition of life, just when so many have had to recover and refresh and restart and reawaken and to retake up the hard work and the unshirkable responsibilities of making the world – not only our own – but of your own.

Every class of every year moves up into the rotation and proves their value by living their values, but this class, your class, isn’t just doing work that has to be done. You’re joining in the work that has to be done. 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, and after your time here in the final years and final weeks at Wright State.

The future is always uncertain, but we, who celebrate what you have done, we celebrate all of your achievements. We are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down. Thank you. Congratulations. Way to go.