Tom Hanks, who, along with wife Rita Wilson, became the first two celebrities to come down with -- and recover from -- COVID-19, paid it forward with an inspiring video message for the graduating class of Ohio's Wright State University.
Like schools all over the nation, the university's department of theatre, dance and motion pictures graduation ceremony was canceled in favor of a remote, socially-distanced version, though Hanks softened the blow with a personal greeting.
"You started in the olden times, in a world back before the Great Pandemic of 2020," Hanks told graduates in a video message.
He continued, "You will talk of those earlier years in your lives in just that way: 'Well, that was back before the COVID-19. That was before the great pandemic.' Part of your lives will forever be identified as 'before,' in the same way other generations tell time like, 'Well, that was before the war,' or 'That was before the internet,' or 'That was before Beyoncé.' The word 'before' is going to carry great weight with you."
The two-time Oscar winner said, "Congratulations to you chosen ones ... you are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures."
He also included a hopeful note about the future in his message: "Sometime, if we all remain good Americans, you will continue on into the 'after.' As in 'That was after the virus was tamed,' 'After we were safe to go out again,' 'After we took up our probable lives once more.'"
"You will have made it through a time of great sacrifice and great need and no one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our measure of normalcy than you, you chosen ones," he went on.
"The future is always uncertain," the 63-year-old star said, "but we who celebrate what you have done, we are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down. Thank you, congratulations, way to go!"