As the school year comes to a close, many Georgetown students are reflecting on what this university means to them. However, Georgetown’s Alma Mater, our forgotten school hymn, is missing as students reminisce about traditions, experiences and memories.
The Alma Mater is the lost counterpart of the Fight Song: While the Fight Song may be the energetic and spirited blood flowing through our university’s veins, the Alma Mater is the telos of our university. Dating back to 1894, it proclaims the end goal and vision of Georgetown, the song that recounts the purest relationship between students and the university. Georgetown is our mother: we are her children.
The phrase “Alma Mater” translates from Latin as “nourishing mother.” As our Alma Mater, Georgetown cares for us and guides us during these influential years. She teaches us lessons and virtues, allows us to safely make mistakes and learn from them, comforts us during our trials and difficulties and brings us together with praise during our triumphs. Don’t we leave Georgetown as wiser, kinder and better women and men than when we arrived?
We, as Georgetown’s children, must also live out this relationship. As our Alma Mater envisions, Georgetown’s students “with garlands they have crowned her” and “enwound her with the Blue and Gray.” This sentiment is not unknown, for it is the feeling that arises deep from the hearts of Hoyas after an exciting basketball game, after a relaxing conversation with friends on Healy beach, after stepping back onto campus after a long break. This is my home. I love this place.
This hymn, this choral embodiment of Georgetown as our mother, is a beautiful expression of our pride in and love of this university: “wave her colors ever, furl her standards never.” It is a song and a vision underappreciated in our day-to-day activities on campus. Let us play our Alma Mater when guests come to speak on campus, so they might know what Georgetown means to her students. Let us sing our Alma Mater before major sporting events, so opposing teams might quake in our filial love. Let us belt out our Alma Mater at NSO, Founder’s Day, Georgetown Day, university-wide Masses and any other time we come together, so that none forget its message.
For the Alma Mater is not just a hymn of praise. It is a challenge. A mother wants for her children more than just material or career success, but also for her sons and daughters to be truly happy and fulfilled. As our mother, Georgetown must desire for her students the fulfillment of cura personalis, the fostering and formation of the whole individual, that they may be true students of learning and truly happy. If that means sacrificing some of our career-building apparatus, so be it.
For us her children, the Alma Mater also serves as a warning. “Throned on hills beside the river, Georgetown sees it flow forever” – Georgetown is greater than any of us, larger than our current generation of students, faculty, and administrators. Thus, every reform this university undertakes, every decision this university makes, every breath this university takes must be unselfish and account for her past and future. Georgetown will remain on this Hilltop for generations hereafter, long after we all die. We, her current children, must look to our ancestors as an example for Georgetown is here today because her children Carroll, Healy, White, Gervase and countless others loved Georgetown as an idea over their own personal goals or ambitions regarding her. Respecting and reliving traditions allows those past voices a chance to influence and vote on today’s challenges. We would be fools to not heed their wisdom.
Fundamentally, Georgetown, like our own mothers, has given, sacrificed and toiled much so that we might be happy, wise and virtuous. As with our own mothers, we can never fully repay that gift of existence, of that formative, magis life. One day, however, each of us will be asked to return the favor. As with our own mothers, one day Georgetown will be sick, ailing, suffering, confused, frighten, depressed or in general unwell, and she will need our help. And I hope that I will be there, and many of you with me, when Georgetown needs us most.
Now we depart for our summer internships, travel and jobs – some of us head off for longer than others. However, though we leave Georgetown, she never leaves us. For when you pass through D.C. again, as your taxi turns around the Beltway bend and your gaze falls upon “her spires and steeples beaming,” you, teary-eyed, may just see that “grand old banner gleaming”: Georgetown’s Blue and Gray.
Michael Fischer is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He can be contacted at [email protected] Postscript appears every other Tuesday.
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