Prepared text of Konstantine Buhler's Baccalaureate speech
Following is the prepared text of the 2014 Baccalaureate student speech by Konstantine Buhler, a senior majoring in management science and engineering and minoring in art history and computer science.
Good morning and congratulations, Class of 2014.
I would like to begin my remarks with offering you a chant.
Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη, Вечная память (Vechnaya Pamyat), may their memory be eternal.
"May their memory be eternal." When these words are sung in my Church, they bring my grandmother to tears. They make my mother feel pain and my father cringe. These words bring a vein to my uncle's forehead and a frown on my sister's beautiful face. They burn. But as the chant concludes, the words sooth and elevate us.
These are the words of grief and loss of a loved one in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. Take a moment to recall the words of loss in your faith: perhaps the Yizkor ("Remember") or the Ṣalāt al-Janāzah.
But, this speech is not about loss, it is about what we will leave behind and what we bring with us.
In my religion, when a loved one "falls asleep into eternity," dies, it is the honor of those still living to carry on his or her memory, to ensure his or her memory is eternal.
Now, this is not intended to be morbid. Don't worry, the soothing and elevation is to come.
I will ask you to meditate with me, to pray, around three memories.
Everyone, I ask you to open your hearts now, and remember a loved one who is not physically here. If you are blessed enough that all your loved ones are here, simply appreciate those who are with you. Bring that person into your heart. Bring him or her with us. Maybe it's a whole group of people. Bring them all. Yes, there are 4,000 seats in this Quad, but physical constraints do not apply to the people in heaven or jannah or in olam ha-ba. Take a moment and remember these people. Close your eyes and picture them sitting next to you. See that loved one smile. He is so proud. She is so happy. May their memory be eternal.
Now, let us remember the namesakes of our University, the Stanfords. After all, we sit in the shadow of Memorial Church. Our University is steeped in memory and love and sobriety of thought, well, sobriety on most weekdays. Let us think of Leland Junior, cut down before his prime, in a way that mysteriously benefits us all. Let us remember Jane, that she dreamed this dream and that this woman in an era of men built the greatest university in the world for the memory of her son, with her husband initially, but largely after his death in 1893. And let us remember Leland Senior, for without his hard work, Jane's dream might not have been fulfilled, and we may have spent the last four years freezing in Boston instead of basking in the beauty of the Farm.
Finally, let us remember our time here. This chapter that is closing all too quickly. Shut your eyes once more. Our classmates, professors, administrators, staff and friends. Remember it all. Yes, countless hours in the library. Yes, lots of struggle. But now, let us select what we will bring with us into eternal memory. Let us bring the love and kindness and peace that we have experienced on this "gloriously paradisiacal" campus. Let us leave behind any pain. Let us bring the warmth of our friends' embraces, and of the California sun. Let us hold on to the knowledge we fought for and the friendships we built. And of course, look around you; let us bring with us the jubilant memories of the loved ones who surround us in pride and love today.
May these memories be eternal.