“We need you badly – that’s not an exaggeration,” he said. “You are ready.”
Biden’s address to the 240 men and women in the academy’s senior year was his first address as Commander-in-Chief.
As a brilliant morning sun set, Biden saluted as he walked through the cadet chain that spanned nearly half of Cadet Memorial Field to get to the outdoor stage. Shortly after Biden took his place on the unshaded stage, cannons were fired 21 times.
The senior class, which included seven international cadets who will serve in the armed forces of their home countries, sat in white folding chairs that were socially distant in front of the stage. The ceremony was closed to the public and fewer guests were allowed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
After teasing the crowd that he would speak for four hours in the hot sun, Biden addressed the graduates and their guests for about half an hour.
“Is the sun coming to you?” he joked at one point when the expected applause for a reference to the Navy did not come quickly. When they got the hint, the crowd clapped.
Biden continued the longstanding tradition of exempting all midshipmen from the minor behavior restriction. “You have no idea how much I wish I could have done that on graduation,” said Biden, a graduate of the University of Delaware.
Biden noted the cadets’ long list of achievements, which included a haircut that showed every bump on their head. On the class motto “We are the future”, Biden said: “I think you have no idea how deep this claim is. The world is changing. We are at a major turning point. “
Biden was serious, saying the US must play an active role in setting the norms of behavior and aligning them with democratic values rather than autocrats. “Your mission is becoming more global and more important,” he said.
“No class can choose the world to graduate in,” he said. “The challenges you will have to face in your career will be very different from the ones you entered these halls before.”
But “we have proven that there is not a single thing we as a nation cannot do if we do it together,” he said.
Although Biden’s remarks were his first at a service academy as president, the speech was a return visit. In 2013, as Vice President, he addressed the academy’s graduating class.
Presidents and vice-presidents address the US military academies on a rotating schedule. Vice president Kamala Harris is keynote speaker at the US Naval Academy this month.
Counteradministrator Bill Kelly, the Academy Superintendent, described Biden’s address as “a memorable event for our community and a great opportunity to showcase the Academy and the City of New London on a national stage.”
President Donald Trump used his Speech 2017 Telling Coast Guard cadets that “Adversity Makes You Stronger”. And he said he should know.
“No politician in history – and I say that with great certainty – has been treated worse or more unfairly,” said Trump.
Contributor: Michael Collins