A post prandial elocution
Instructors, administrators, students, and friends. I am as surprised as you that I should have been asked to make this address this evening. As a scholar, I am more at home in an archive than before so large an audience, but when I saw the names of the members of the committee that organized this dinner, marking our former instructor's retirement, I knew that I must be a part of this celebration.
As I look out at all of you here, I see many familiar faces among this assemblage. Most of you have, I believe, memories as vivid as mine of our teacher and those special months spent as the focus of such unforgettable devotion to molding our futures, both in and out of the classroom.
Tonight all gather to commemorate those years of service spent as an instructor and advisor here, at our beloved Academy. We revisit that era which made such an imprint on so many. Even now those days return to us with a particular vividness, that can be matched by too few moments in our lives away from the Academy. I know that I cannot be the only one here who has those experiences return to me, not only in dreams, but so often in waking moments, when I would have thought they should have faded into dim recollections.
How can we, even those of us so long absent from that classroom, forget the hours spent in those famous lectures? Do we not hear that most distinctive of voices in our hearts? What other instructor in all our lives has left such a permanent mark? What was most endearing: the subtle inquiries directed at us while among our fellow students, or the unflinching earnestness that we received in those more private moments with our honored advisor?
As for those of us that were distinguished from our classmates for more focused attention, did we not emerge from those sessions with a clear vision of our future in the Academy, and our instructor's ardent hopes for our future lives? And afterwards, did we not find ourselves unable to explain to our other instructors, or the administrators, the precise ways that our daily encounters with tonight's honoree directed us to such undreamed of results? Even today, many of us find our lives and careers unalterably fixed to those futures that our dear instructor not only predicted, but did so much to bring to fruition. That others of us have found ourselves living lives far beyond those visions, what is that but the vagaries of fortune?
The most powerful testimony, however, to the effect that one teacher can have on our lives, is the fact that so many have put aside our more intimate concerns, and made such heroic efforts to be present here this evening? I know the members of the organizing committee made many personal appeals to several former students in a particular effort to assure that those of us who have been so irrevocably stamped with the mark of our instructor's special tutelage could clear our calendars so as to have the pleasure of being present this evening.
Yet, we all recognize that future students will find themselves with but a name spoken in these halls. And while we are certain no name could echo longer, or more forcefully than the one that is on all of our lips tonight, the committee has commissioned a special plaque which we all hope will immortalize that name and it's bearer long after we have all passed to dust. I must admit to having been honored as well the task of with finding the proper inscription that the members of the committee agree so perfectly encapsulate our true feelings. You may all see it in its place of prominence as you leave this evening, as it has been permanently installed as we dined. A teacher who remains such a central element in our lives deserves, we all agreed, no less.
Thank you, and good evening.