NEW HAVEN -- With presidential security helicopters circling over the Yale University campus, filmmaker Ken Burns denounced the war in Iraq yesterday and told graduates to remember history as they work to repair divides in American culture.
President Bush came to the campus for a private reception with his daughter Barbara, who graduates today. Bush did not hold any public events, and Barbara skipped yesterday's baccalaureate services and the senior Class Day festivities where Burns spoke.
While Bush was not in public view, his presidency was a hot topic of rhetoric at Class Day.
Without mentioning Bush by name, Burns drew parallels between today's political leaders and the Iraq war and Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, which he chronicled in an award-winning film series.
Both wars threatened to tear the country apart, Burns said.
"Steel yourselves. Your generation must repair this damage, and it will not be easy," Burns told the graduates.
Burns quoted famed jurist Learned Hand as saying, "Liberty is never being too sure you're right."
"Somehow recently, though, we have replaced our usual and healthy doubt with an arrogance and belligerence that resembles more the ancient and now-fallen empires of our history books than a modern, compassionate democracy," Burns said, to applause from the 1,300 graduates and their families and friends.