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Tom Hanks receives honorary degree at Harvard University

Tom Hanks receives honorary degree at Harvard University
© Cover Media / © Cover Media

Tom Hanks gave a speech and received a honorary degree at Harvard University on Thursday.

The two-time Academy Award winner gave an inspiring speech to over 9,000 Harvard graduates during the commencement ceremony on Thursday. Hanks focused on the topic of truth and told them to be superheroes in their defence of truth and American ideals.

"For the truth to some is no longer empirical. It's no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency," the Forrest Gump star stated. "Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service. It's no longer the salve to our fears, or the guise to our actions. Truth is now considered malleable, by opinion and by zero-sum endgames."

The iconic film star told the graduates that they had a choice to make about what type of person they wanted to be post-university.

"It's the same option for all grownups who have to decide to be one of three types of Americans: those who embrace liberty and freedom for all; those who won't; or those who are indifferent," he continued. "Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union, a nation indivisible. The others get in the way."

Hanks was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the university, which prompted him to joke about his own lack of academic credentials.

"It's not fair, but please don't be embittered by this fact. Now, without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library - in order to have anything to do with the graduating class of Harvard, its faculty, or its distinguished alumni - I make a damn good living playing someone who did," he said, referencing his role as fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and Inferno.

"It's the way of the world, kids," he quipped, leading to laughter from the audience.

Hanks was one of six people who received honorary degrees on Thursday. The star was also given a Wilson volleyball featuring the Harvard logo as a nod to his 2000 movie Cast Away.

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