Vice President Salutes Naval Academy
Vice President Salutes Naval Academy’s
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. — (DoD
News) — May 22, 2015 — As he addressed the U.S. Naval Academy’s
graduating class today in Annapolis, Maryland, Vice President Joe Biden
expressed pride in the midshipmen as they prepare to join a 170-year legacy of
excellence. Before delivering his remarks, the vice president honored Navy
Midshipman Justin Zemser who was among eight people killed in an Amtrak train
derailment last week.
Vice President Joe Biden at
the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis
“Justin was a top student,” Biden said, “[and] a gifted
athlete remembered as a young man of quiet strength and a man of his word.”
Zemser “would have made a great Navy Seal,” the vice
president said. “He will be missed and my heart goes out to his family.”
Biden lauded the “outstanding” midshipmen for choosing a more
challenging path as they graduate from the Naval Academy.
“Class of 2015, you were among the most promising high school
students on the planet,” he said. “No one would have blamed you for choosing an
easier path, but you chose service.
“You chose honor,” Biden continued. “You chose to join the
real one percent that protects the 99 percent of the rest of us here in America
and we owe you. We’re proud of you.”
The midshipmen, he said, join “one of the most venerated
military and academic institutions on the entire Earth.”
“In the time since you reported on a Friday four years ago,
you’ve earned your place,” Biden told the midshipmen, as he highlighted some of
their accomplishments, including over 26,000 hours of community service, over
2,000 new registered bone marrow donors, and more than 60,000 pounds of food
donated to those in need.
“And you excelled in the classroom,” the vice president said.
“You didn’t just win the annual cyber exercise. You became the first graduating
class in any school in the United States of America to ever have had every
student complete the comprehensive cybersecurity curriculum.”
Biden added, “You’re about to become a part of the long
continuum of naval and Marine officers, who graduated from this incredible
institution -- a legacy which goes back 170 years.”
‘How You Navigate the Storm’
The vice president emphasized that the path the graduates
chose “is not for everyone” and implored each to demand respect and dignity for
all service members.
Life as a commissioned officer is “not an easy ride,” Biden
“It will require much, but it will reward much,” he said. “As
you know, the true measure of an officer is not only how you sail in calm
waters, but how you navigate the storm.”
Biden added, “We, your fellow Americans, expect a great deal
from you -- not just your physical courage, but your moral courage as well,
which at times can be even harder to muster.”
As officers in the U.S. military “you must demand that every
one of your fellow sailors and Marines is afforded the dignity [and] respect
that they deserve no matter race, gender, faith or sexual orientation,” Biden
told the midshipmen.
Biden also told the midshipmen they will be counted on to
“refuse to tolerate” sexual harassment and sexual assault in any form under any
circumstances as a “matter of honor.”
Forward-Deployed Face of America
Looking to the future, Biden said each of the future Navy and
Marine officers will be looked upon as “the forward deployed face of America,
projecting power to every corner of the world.”
The vice president also quoted former President Theodore
Roosevelt, noting, “‘A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It’s the surest
guarantee of peace.’”
There are “new fault lines,” Biden said. “These new fault
lines will continue to divide the great powers, and they reside in the straits
and the sea lanes that you will come to know so well.”
Tensions may sometimes run high, Biden said, but “you will be
there to keep the peace.”
Rebalance to the Pacific
The U.S. is rebalancing toward the “vast potential” of the
Asia-Pacific region, Biden said.
“But we can’t succeed if you don’t show
up -- that’s why 60 percent of the United States naval forces will be stationed
in the Pacific by 2020,” the vice president said.
Biden said peace and prosperity in the Pacific region has
depended -- and will continue to depend -- on U.S. naval power just as it has
for the past 60 years.
“You are a force for peace and security,” Biden told the
midshipmen. “We’ve used your power to reinforce and update the international
rules and cooperation that benefit all nations -- to manage the emerging
challenges of the century ahead -- before they devolve into conflict.
“We’re going to look to you to uphold these principles
wherever they are challenged,” he continued, “[and] to strengthen our growing
security partnerships and make good on our unshakeable commitment to the neutral
defense of our allies.”
Rise to the Moment
The vice president urged the midshipmen not to forget their
time at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Remember all you’ve learned -- all you’ve felt, all you
breathed here at the Naval Academy,” Biden said. “You will rise [to] the moment,
and know one thing for sure -- you are not alone.”
The midshipmen “will never, ever be alone,” the vice
“You will be surrounded by a family that raised you," he said,
"and a family that made you an officer in the finest military in the history of
the world, without exception.”
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