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Harvard Moto

Maria C. Morog, in Reader's Digest

As a prospective Harvard student, I was taking a campus tour when the guide stopped before a statue in Harvard Yard. On the pedestal was this inscription: "John Harvard, Founder, 1638." The guide informed us that this was known as the statue of the three lies."

First of all, the artist commissioned to sculpture it could not find a clear picture of John Harvard after which to model his work, so he just chose a picture of a respectable-looking gentleman from the proper era.

Second, John Harvard was not the founder of Harvard University. He was simply a substantial contributor to the college in its early days.

Third, the date on the statue's base represents not the date of John Harvard's death, as might be supposed, but the year he donated his library and half his fortune to the college.

The irony lies in that on the side of the statue is the Harvard emblem emblazoned with the school's motto: Veritas.