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Armstrong, Giuliani dole out inspiration, and zingers

BOSTON --Commencement speakers across Massachusetts on Sunday tried to give graduates a sense of purpose, telling them to get involved, have courage and be tolerant.

But before most of the inspirational monologues got rolling, many honorees started their talks with a harmless joke.

At Tufts University, cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong picked up an honorary degree and began his address with an observation.

"For a guy who barely made it out of high school, I find it incredibly ironic that I am standing up here as a doctor," Armstrong said. "I would just ask that somebody send the photos to the principal at Plano East Senior High and let them know that I, in fact, graduated from Tufts and he has to call me Dr. Armstrong now."

When the laughter ceased, Armstrong told the graduates about his battle against testicular cancer, which spread to his brain before surgery, and his struggle to return to cycling before his winning streak on the Tour de France.

"Be active," said Armstrong, whose charitable foundations has raised millions of dollars for cancer research. "Be involved. Be heard. Be aggressive. Be smart. Don't be Afraid."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani couldn't resist a quip about the New York Yankees when he spoke at Suffolk Law School commencement in Boston.

Then he told the future lawyers what he learned as a federal prosecutor.

"You have to know what you stand for. You have to have a set of principles," Giuliani said. "If you don't know what you stand for, you cannot lead other people."

The two-term mayor said he learned how to lead by copying other leaders: President Ronald Reagan, football coach Vince Lombardi and Lloyd McMahon, a judge he clerked for as a young lawyer.

Giuliani, considered a potential 2008 Republican candidate for president, recalled looking up at the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001 and seeing human being jumping from the 100th floor.

"I said to myself, 'We're not prepared for this. We don't have a plan for this,'" Giuliani said. "We had all of these plans, 20, 25 emergency plans. But we didn't have one for airplanes being uses as missiles attacking our buildings."

That day Giuliani leaned on the sage advice of Lloyd. The judge had told him to prepare for everything he could think of, and then he would be prepared for anything.

Prince Hassan of Jordan told 675 graduating seniors at Brandeis University in Waltham that human beings have "no alternative" but to work together.

"Interdependence means committing to living with each other," he said. "Not despite each other."

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