Life lessons from the chief

Courtesy of an appreciative account by Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes, Hugh Hewitt tipped his listeners this morning to Chief Justice John Roberts’s ninth-grade commencement address early last month at the Cardigan Mountain School. Cardigan Mountain is an elite boarding school for boys in grades six through nine in Caanan, New Hampshire. Barnes observes: “Sitting up front under a large white tent as John Glover Roberts Jr. took the stage was graduating student John Glover Roberts III.”

Barnes’s article quotes the highlights. Video of the whole thing is below.

Drawing on my own experience, I would say that most commencement addresses are to be endured rather than heard. Roberts’s is a modest speech that encourages modesty with a dose of self-deprecating humor and sly notes of parental love. He avoids “grand advice” beyond the admonition to behave modestly. He suggests how the students can profit from their disappointments. He gives a couple of modest examples of how to enrich the lives of others. It’s a speech aimed at 15-year-olds, but it’s never too late to learn.


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