This is the commencement address delivered at my high school graduation by David McCullough Jr.,
son of historian David McCullough Sr. As I was about to post this, I tried to find this
speech online to check for copyright and permission to republish. It used to be hosted on
Wellesley High School’s website. Since then they seem to have taken it down, and I’m not able to
find it online anywhere. So for posterity, here it is.
“GO” 2006 Commencement Address – David McCullough
Dr. King, Mrs. Mirkin, Mr. Keegan, Mrs. Jablonski, friends and families of the graduates, members
of the Wellesley High School class of 2006, for the honor of the invitation to speak this
afternoon I am very grateful. Thank you.
The occasion is commencement, a beginning. Let us not, therefore, spend too much time looking
backward. Suffice to say you spent four useful and, I hope, happy years in that lovely pile of
bricks, that you now know the difference between Dickens and Dickinson and recognize a pythagorean
theorem when you trip over one, that you can conjugate an unAmerican verb or two and navigate most
regions of the periodic table. You know, I hope, something of history and its particulars, and you
understand it is (present tense) populated with people, every bit as real and vital as you are,
with loves and wishes and apprehensions just like yours. I hope in that building and on its green
fields you learned the indispensability of passion and practice and teamwork, that you felt both
victory and defeat, that you learned something of the connection between dedication and
achievement, between effort and results. You enjoyed, I hope, the peace of mind of knowing you
tried your best.