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Commencement Speeches: The Inspiring, The Dispiriting And The Bizarre




West Point graduates watch as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks during the 2021 West Point Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2021 in West Point, New York. the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2021 commencement address.
West Point graduates watch as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks during the 2021 West Point Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2021 in West Point, New York. the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2021 commencement address.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

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With graduation season upon us, students everywhere have to sit through one final lecture: the one at their graduation.

Of course, there are plenty of inspiring, even iconic, commencement speeches, from David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water,” to Michelle Obama’s 2015 speech at Tuskegee University. 

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that there are plenty of less than stimulating speakers and topic choices at grad’s final hurrahs. 

What was the best commencement speech you’ve heard and why? And if there was one that really missed the mark and stuck in your mind, we want to hear about it too. Call us at 866-893-5722.

To see and hear the commencement addresses we discussed on today's show, and more, you can check out NPR's database with hundreds of commencement speeches available.