Heroes

BY JOSEPH LOEB III
COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
ST. EDWARD'S UNIVERSITY
MAY 10, 2003

Doctor Martin. Distinguished Guests, Faculty and Board Members. Families and friends of this Graduating Class. And Anybody else I may have forgotten - Good Morning.

As I stand before the Class of 2003, ONE question comes to mind.

WHAT am I doing here?!

I mean, what is the guy who thought it was a good idea for a teenage werewolf to play basketball doing speaking at St. Ed's?!

I look out among you - and with the exception of that man in the third row, I don't SEE any werewolves... so...

THIS is unexpected to say the least.

I've been told that it could be because of my work with Heroes. Specifically, the SUPER hero kind of hero that brings me here.

Me.

I guess that makes me... some kind of hero. (At least that's what my Mom tells me.)

But... how can that be? I don't wear a cape with pajamas and my underwear on the outside. At least not in public...

I can't fly. I can't bend steel in my bare hands. And faster than a speeding bullet? HA! I can't find my CAR KEYS on most days...

Then... it has to be... about... something else.

So... I started thinking...

WHAT IS A HERO?

I took out MY equivalent to those text books you've been lugging around campus - MY COMIC BOOK COLLECTION. And looked for an answer.

Some Heroes are fairly easy to point out.

They wear those capes and since other than DRACULA, NOBODY else has worn a cape in about a hundred years, it's a pretty safe bet we're talking about the right people.

Some of them have cool gadgets they keep in their utility belts.

Some have claws that POP out of their hands.

And ONE big fella is very green and you wouldn't like him when he gets angry.

They have - how does it go? Powers and abilities FAR BEYOND those of mortal men and women... SPIDER-MAN can shoot webs any size. He catches thieves just like flies.

DAREDEVIL is blind, but he uses his radar sense and a billy club to bring justice to the streets.

BATMAN strikes fear in the hearts of criminals who are a cowardly and superstitious lot.

THE FLASH is the fastest man alive.

ANT MAN. PLASTIC MAN. CATWOMAN. BATGIRL.

BUT my ALL TIME personal favorite superhero...

...and I know some of you are thinking "It's gotta be Superman. The guy works on SMALLVILLE."

NOPE. It's MATTER EATER LAD. Let me say that for you again, since you probably thought, "Nah, THAT can't be what he said." MATTER. EATER. LAD. Never heard of him? Let me tell you. He's a member of The Legion of Super-Heroes.

And I kid you not - He could eat... ANYTHING. With the added bonus... he never put on a pound.

Chocolate cake? He could eat a CAR. A building. You could invite him over for dinner and he'd eat the food. The plates. The silverware. Then, the table. He could literally eat you out of house and home. And not put on a pound.

Last night, we all went out and had some of your Texas barbeque. Man, did I wish I was Matter Eater Lad...

All these heroes... ...some of them inspiring... ...some of them fantastic... ...some of them very silly...

They all have different powers. Different abilities. Some of them aren't even from this planet.

Which brings me to YOU. The Class of 2003. Well, not the "Not Being from This Planet" part. (Except for that guy in the third row.)

YOU ARE ALREADY HEROES. You've made it here. You've studied and learned and questioned and grown and finally! Finally, after today, you will get your diploma.

That's your utility belt. That's your power ring. THAT'S your cape.

And you've already got a costume. I mean, why else would you be dressed in a cap and gown? When you leave here today, you have your WHOLE LIVES ahead of you to let others see the HERO that you are. To BE the Heroes that I'm lucky enough to write about.

Now, I'm pretty sure you're thinking, but JEPH, I don't WANT to eat a car.

That's okay.

A hero isn't judged by the cars he eats. Or by the bad guys she catches in her webbing.

A HERO is judged by good work - some might even call them "Good Deeds."

In REAL LIFE, some are easier to spot than others. The Firemen. The Police Officers. The Doctors. The Nurses. Come to think of it, THEY all wear costumes, don't they...?

But, together, WE can look further than that.

When Teachers inspire students to reach for the stars, THEY are heroes.

When Senators and Congressmen and Political Activists stand up and fight for the poor and needy, THEY are heroes.

When Artists create paintings and sculptures that lift your spirit, THEY are heroes.

When Musicians write songs that express your feelings in a way you can't - THEY are heroes.

When a Scientist, a Research Assistant, an Engineer, a Computer Programmer work together to solve a problem that makes life just a bit better - THEY are heroes.

When a Priest or a Rabbi or a Minister or a Librarian finds a book that answers your questions - THEY are heroes.

And when your PARENTS and FAMILIES and FRIENDS have pulled together so that YOU - The Class of 2003 could not only go to St. Edward's University, but supported you all the way to this very day -

-- so that YOU could leap YOUR tall buildings - THEY are most definitely Heroes.

And I want to take a moment to do a special "SHOUT OUT" to all the MOM'S out there. Happy Mother's Day tomorrow! YOU know, better than anyone, but it never hurts to remind you -

YOU ARE HEROES. Now, I'm not going to tell you that this Hero Business is going to be easy.

For every SUPERMAN and SUPERWOMAN who sits before me, there's a piece of KRYPTONITE waiting. Some of you have already encountered it just to get here today.

And I'm not talking about a glowing piece of green meteor rock.

It's called Discrimination. And Injustice. And Poverty. And Things I can only describe as... Unfair.

But HOLD ONTO YOUR DREAMS and you WILL TRIUMPH!

And there will be SUPERVILLAINS out there who DON'T BELIEVE in you and WILL try and stop you -

-- and sometimes they are disguised as Bosses and Co-Workers and, sadly, even people you love.

Just remember, the things you've learned and the education provided to you by the Men and Women at St. Ed's is your REAL POWER.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS - AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY. How do I know all this?

Well, it's NOT because I know how far Wayne Manor is from Gotham City. By the way... it's 14 miles.

It's because I've seen it EVERY DAY since I can remember.

Because MY PARENTS, MY MOM, MY DAD, and MY STEP-FATHER never ONCE questioned my dreams.

When I wanted to be a veterinarian, they took me to the zoo and got me involved there.

When I wanted to be an astronaut, they got me in touch with NASA.

Okay, when I was Three years old and I wanted to be a COW when I grew up, they weren't exactly helpful...

... BUT when I decided that I wanted to tell stories with movies and on television they encouraged me to go to film school and go to Los Angeles and make that happen.

And for that alone... They are MY heroes. Because my DAUGHTER, AUDREY - who is going to be 12 - looks at me when I have my doubts and she tells ME that it's going to be all right. When I ask her how she knows this, she says: "Well, SOMEBODY in this family has to be the Optimist and it's going to be Audrey!"

For that... SHE is my Hero.

Because my 15 year old son, SAM, found out on his 14th Birthday that he had bone cancer and through a year of chemotherapy and surgery he never ONCE flinched. He looked me in the eye and said, "Let's get this done. I'm NOT going to let cancer beat me." And he sits here today - a year later - and he's all better and cancer free.

For that... HE is my Hero.

And Mostly because My Wife Christine, my beautiful wife, has showed me -- throughout the years of our marriage - what it is to be a better human being, mainly by just BEING one.

She is my all time, Super-Duperest Hero.

Yes... Even more than Matter Eater Lad. So... You see... There ARE Heroes all around us.

Young and Old. Male and Female. Of all Colors and Shapes and Sizes.

Just like YOU - St. Edward's University's Graduating Class of 2003.

And I guess... NOW... I understand what I'm doing here.

That maybe... just maybe... my super power is knowing something about what it is to be a hero.

And I'm here to REMIND YOU that every day - EVERY HOUR from NOW ON --

You CAN Triumph if you believe in YOURSELF. You CAN and probably SHOULD LAUGH in the face of Adversity.

And you CAN and you WILL - because we MUST -

Fight for Truth, Justice and the Altogether HUMAN way.

Thank you.



Thanks to Jeph Loeb for allowing the Superman Homepage to reprint his speech.