2009 Latin Salutatory Oration

Delivered in Latin by Stephen Hammer
(English translation)

Given in the Academic Assembly of Princeton
In New Jersey on the Second of June
In the Year 2009
In the 262nd Academic Year

My fellow students and dear friends:

I salute you all. President Tilghman, for your prodigious service, I salute you. Trustees, who diligently preserve this university and its lofty traditions, I salute you. Faculty, by whose labor we have been taught, I salute you. Finally, parents, I salute you. For without your love and long-suffering we would not be able to be here today. We, the students of Princeton, give thanks to you all.  

Under an archway of McCosh Hall an inscription reads, "Here we were taught by men and gothic towers democracy and faith and righteousness and love of unseen things that do not die." Indeed, here, we learned democracy -- to walk in the shadow of an unbroken line of men who laid down their lives for our country. Here, we learned faith -- to accept that grace that conquers evil. Here, we learned righteousness -- the dearest prize that no man can earn. Here, we learned truth.

But if we think that we learned this truth through our own merit, we deceive ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote, "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" Here, people of Princeton, we did indeed learn wisdom, not by our own merits, too often sung and too loudly praised, nor by exams and theses, but by the faith in and the grace of unseen Glory. The glory of this world fades quickly, but that Glory is eternal: No lesson learned at Princeton ought to be held so dear.

With the journey having been begun, finish the race: love justice, shun vice, and exhibit integrity to the republic and compassion to all men. To all those who helped us to come this far, of ages past and present, hail and farewell.