NEW YORK — Vice President Kamala Harris, the very first lady to provide a commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, lauded graduating cadets Saturday for their noble sacrifice in serving their nation, but noted they had been getting into an “unsettled world” for the reason that of Russian aggression and the increasing threats from China.
“The globe has drastically changed,” Harris told the roughly 950 graduating cadets, referring to the international pandemic that took millions of lives, the fraught shifts in international politics in Europe and in Asia, and other challenges.
“It is clear you graduate into an increasingly unsettled globe exactly where extended-standing principles are at threat,” she mentioned.
The vice president highlighted the pursuit of international safety and prosperity, and reminded the cadets that America’s democratic ideals “inspire billions.”
“In the face of all these challenges, America plays a singular part of leadership,” she mentioned. “Cadets, international safety and international prosperity rely on the leadership of the United States of America. And a powerful America remains indispensable to the globe.”
The vice president also singled out Russia and China for criticism.
She referred to as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the very first important ground war in Europe considering that Planet War II, “an attack on the lives and freedom of the Ukrainian persons and an attack on international guidelines and norms that have served as the foundation of international safety and prosperity for generations.”
And she warned cadets to be wary of China for the reason that it is “modernizing its military and threatening each the freedom of the seas and guidelines of international commerce.”
“At the exact same time, autocrats have turn out to be bolder, the threat of terrorism persists, and an accelerating climate crisis continues to disrupt lives and livelihood,” Harris mentioned.
Harris touched on the value of getting institutions reflect the diversity of the broader United States.
“Our military is strongest when it reflects the persons of America,” she mentioned.
When the graduating cadets very first arrived at West Point in 2019, 23 % had been ladies. The class was 71% Caucasian, 15% Black, 12% Hispanic and eight% Asian.
West Point dates to 1802. Given that then, the college has educated several future military leaders like Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. George Patton and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Harris was joined at the commencement by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, who in 2021 became the very first lady to hold the military service’s prime civilian post, and Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of employees.
Upon graduation, the cadets had been commissioned as Army second lieutenants.
“To the Class of 2023: You join the greatest fighting force the globe has ever noticed,” Harris mentioned. “And in years to come, I guarantee you, you will be attempted, and you will be tested.”
“And I am so quite confident that you will rise to each and every occasion. What ever comes your way. You are prepared. And you are prepared for the reason that you are accurate leaders of character.”
— Army Occasions employees contributed to this report.