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The Tie That Binds:  Pictured below is Sanders Theater ... where the Harvard Class of '56 first gathered to hear then Dean of Freshman F. Skiddy von Stade welcome us all (1,000 strong) to the University --- a time in the fall of 1952 when his own sister, Nannie, would herself be an incoming freshman at Radcliffe College.  And then too, four years later, Sanders Theater was to become the venue for the very last assemblage of the entire Radcliffe Class of '56, for it was in Sanders Theater where their graduation exercises were held in June of 1956.
 
But during our four years together, it was in Sanders Theater where we would first read "The Odyssey", "The Aeneid" and "Dante's Inferno"  ---all required reading in Humanities 2.  And for me, these four years at Harvard would be an educational experience like no other--- before or after Harvard.  I was not destined to become the scholar that some already were, but I went to class with them, and I talked with them, and I lived amongst those who were.  Academically, I finished Harvard as Number 634 in our Class of '56 of 1,000.  And so predictably, I did not graduate 'with honors'.  It was a conscious decision of mine to make, for even then I knew that I could not write the required dissertation in my major field and  still carry my normal daily course load throughout our senior year.  But, if you recall, whether we be honors candidates or not--- we each had to sit for a proctored, 3-hour final exam in our major field of concentration before Harvard would graduate us.  That final exam amounted to sitting down and writing a paper within the 3-hours given us--- and do so without any notes, books, cell phones, computers or any other similar devices.  We were all to answer the same set of essay questions, and do so in our own hand.  It was just us and our blue books with all their blank, lined white pages and thin, blue marginal lines running down the inside border of each page.  And when we filled up one blue book after another, we numbered them sequentially, each with our names clearly positioned on their blue covers.  And when it was finally over, and our papers graded--- graded not by graduate students, but by noted Harvard professors in their respective fields--- for all my efforts in that final, 3-hour exam paper that I wrote in Economics, I received a score that equated favorably with that required of a 'cum laude' degree candidate.  This--- coming from Number 634--- my final moment --- more than 50-years ago --- at a great University! 
 
And so for me, this Sanders Theater of ours will always be what it has always been since it's beginning, for it too is an integral part of Memorial Hall befitting of Harvard men who fought and died in the American Civil War--- just another of the many reasons why Sanders Theater is so deserving of being called "the tie that binds."
 

 

 

 

 
Harvard's Memorial Hall came about just after the Civil War ended. The President of Harvard (Thomas Hill) wanted to build a memorial to the Harvard graduates who had fallen defending the Union during the war. After much deliberation, it was decided that a building would be built that would also house a theater (Sanders Theater). Most aspects of the building were completed by 1878.
 
The windows of the great hall were later filled with stained glass given by alumni classes. To this day Memorial Hall houses more stained glass than any building in the U.S. that is not a church.

Inside the central room of the Hall, plaques list the names and places of death of 136 Harvard graduates who died in the Civil War, including Colonel Robert G. Shaw, whose heroics are re-lived by Matthew Broderick in the motion picture, "Glory." The 137th Harvard man who also died in the Civil War is not listed--- for he died in the war two years shy of graduation.

And incidentally, that motion picture  "Glory" won three Oscars in 1989.
They were as follows:--- 
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Denzel Washington
Best Cinematography
Freddie Francis
Best Sound
Donald O. Mitchell
Gregg Rudloff
Elliot Tyson
Russell Williams II