It occurred to me this morning that this is the sixtieth anniversary of my graduation from Harvard. Inasmuch as I did not attend my fifth, tenth, fifteenth, twenty-fifty, thirty-fifth, or fiftieth reunions, I think consistency requires that I also not attend my sixtieth. Technically, since I was a member of the class of '54, my sixtieth is not until next year, but who's counting? My commencement year was a time of transitions. James Bryant Conant was stepping down as President of Harvard to become High Commissioner of Germany in the post-war occupation [I actually had a brief interview with him in Berlin while I was wandering about Europe on a traveling fellowship.] The in-coming president, Nathan Marsh Pusey, was a member of the twenty-fifth reunion class, a very big deal.
When you get to my age, you spend a certain amount of time keeping track of whom you have outlived. I am sorry to say that I have outlived the two best-known members of my class, Ted Kennedy and John Updike [neither of whom I knew, by the way.]
I can vividly recall the Commencement procession that June day, with the aged fiftieth reunion class of '03 preceded by the handful of superannuated relics who had managed to survive to their sixtieth. I was quite sure that none of those stooped old men could possibly understand how the world looked to me, but contemplating this year's forthcoming Commencement ceremonies from a somewhat different vantage point, I am sublimely confident that I quite well understand the world into which the class of 2013 is being launched.
Perhaps if I make it to my seventieth I will grace the proceedings with my presence.