I am still watching the online broadcast. The performers have been singing the song that should really be our national anthem, Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," and among them is the man who popularized the song for so many of us, Pete Seeger. He is old, his voice is weak, but there he is, with his colorful knit hat and his banjo, with Springsteen and others and a multiracial chorus of young people behind him and a multiracial crowd around and below.
Pete Seeger was the Commencement speaker at my graduation from Oberlin College. The Vietnam war was on, Richard Nixon was in the White House, and soon the Watergate break-ins would happen. The premier issue of Ms. magazine was in print. I had just turned twenty. It was May, 1972. Pete got up there with his banjo and sang most of his speech. He talked about cleaning up the Hudson River --my graduating class also was in college during the first Earth Day-- and about nuclear proliferation and pollution, and how there was as much Strontium 90 in mother's milk in the South Pacific as there was in the U.S. "There's no place to run to," he said. I have never forgotten his words. "There's no place to run to." By which he also meant "Get to work!"
He had the whole class of 1922 singing, too. They were there for their 50th reunion.
P.S. If you watch the HBO broadcast, you can catch a tiny glimpse of Bishop Robinson toward the end of Beyoncé's "America the Beautiful." Everyone came back on stage for that.
P.P.S. One of my students (who is now my teaching assistant for one of this semester's classes) texted me from the crowd during the performance this afternoon. :-)
Special P.S. for Padre Mickey: They kept in the verse about private property, too!