We humans are creatures of days and dates, though most fade quickly into the fog of memory. Researchers have recently identified a newly discovered phenomenon called “hyperthymesia,” more commonly known as “autobiographical memory.” Those who possess this condition are able to remember the most precise details of every day of their lives. Mention a date and they can tell you where they were, what they were doing, and what of significance happened in the world on that day. These people remember every single day, including those in which nothing out of the ordinary happened. It is, we can only assume, a gift of sorts. Most of us do not possess this gift, nor can we really imagine it.
That is why days like today are important to us. We are gathered together in this place and with these people in order to mark this day as out of the ordinary. Many of us are dressed in a way that could only be described as odd if worn everyday, but perfectly fitting when worn today. The faculty and gradates arrayed before you are dressed in the medieval attire of scholars, complete with the regalia indicating degrees, subjects of study, and academic rank. Within hours, these gowns and robes will be rehung or reboxed and put away until needed again for another day like today. And yet, even those of us without the gift of autobiographical memory will remember this day, for it is not just like any other day.
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