Wesleyan University

The news that Barack Obama had agreed to replace an ailing Ted Kennedy as the commencement speaker for Wesleyan University’s one hundred and seventy-sixth graduation spread like wildfire across alumni networks on the evening before my thirtieth reunion. My class, traumatized by the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy, jaded by the spectacle of Watergate, and demoralized by a steady stream of electoral defeats, greeted the news of his appearance like starstruck teenagers trying to get into an Elvis concert.

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