During Sunday’s virtual graduation ceremony that was put on by the Obamas, Bono introduced a cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day” that was organized by Finneas O’Connell, brother to Billie Eilish. The cover included contributions from Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Camila Cabello, Ty Dolla $ign, Cynthia Erivo, Khalid, Leon Bridges, Noah Cyrus, and Ben Platt.
“As an Irishman, I’ve always believed that America is not just a country, it’s an idea, it’s a dream that belongs to the whole world,” Bono said in his introduction. “Now I know in recent times the world has been reminded that America is an idea that doesn’t even belong to a lot of Americans, and that for many black Americans, Lady Liberty’s torch is far from a beacon of hope, it’s often a flashlight in the face.” He continued:
Now there were storm clouds over Dublin when U2 recorded “Beautiful Day” — things were not as they might have been. But the song is not a description of where we were at. It was a prayer for where we could go. It was a dream, like America is a dream of what might be. We now know that America is a song yet to be written. That America might be the greatest song the world has never heard. It’s a wild thought — that America is yet to exist. And even wilder that the class of 2020 might be the very people that bring it into being, after 244 years of striving for freedom — sometimes marching, sometimes protesting, sometimes on your knees, sometimes taking the knee, you get there. I don’t know how, but I know who — you, you can vault the barricades of bigotry and with your vote you can dismantle institutions that uphold that bigotry and are in your way. You can enter America — you can enter America, we will all enter with you, but it’s gonna be you, and that is gonna be a beautiful day. Finneas O’Connell has some of the most extraordinary voices on the planet to sing that song.