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Obama Addresses US Naval Academy Graduation
President Obama spoke to the graduating midshipmen of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD today. During the speech, he “officially absolved” all minor infractions for which the cadets were on restriction, emphasizing only the “minor” ones. He also promised next year’s class an extra weekend. Early on, I could tell that this speech was not going to go well.
“This class is about to become the latest link in a long, unbroken chain of heroism and victory — a chain forged in battles whose names are etched in the stone of this stadium: from Coral Sea to Midway to Guadalcanal; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from the Mekong Delta to Desert Storm. For some among us, these are not just places on a map. They’re the stories of their lives. And we honor all of our veterans here today.”
Anyone else notice that there seem to be some important locations missing in there. Desert Storm is the last conflict the President mentions at a time when Annapolis graduates are fighting a two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During his speech, President Obama named some very noble and patriotic cadets.
Elvin Vasquez, a Marine supply chief in Iraq who finally got into the Naval Academy on his third try who never gave up trying because he says, “there’s just something about being a Marine.”
It’s the example of Carlos Carbello who left the tough streets of L.A. to serve on a destroyer in the Pacific and who has used his time here to mentor others, because he’s the oldest midshipman — the old man — at the age of 26.
It’s the patriotism of Sade Holder who came to America as a child from Trinidad, enlisted in the Navy and then earned the titles she values most: “U.S. citizen” and “Navy Midshipman” and today, “Ensign.”
And it’s the reverence for tradition shown by James P. Heg a communications maintenance Marine in Iraq who today is joined by the man who first urged him to sign up, his grandfather, returning six decades after he was a midshipman, a submariner from World War II, 89-year-old Captain James E. Heg.
Honor. Courage. Commitment. These are the values that have defined your years in the Yard and that you’ll need in the years ahead as you join the fleet, and as you join and lead the Marines, as you confront the ever-changing threats of an ever-changing world.
At the mention of each name, the class erupted into applause at the courage and perseverance of their classmates.
Obama also insinuated during his speech that our troops weren’t sent into combat with a cause. He promised that as president he would only send our troops “into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done.” He launched into the classic bring them home now mantra of ending the war in Iraq. Yet, at no time did he give the credit where it was due to the Bush administration for handing of an Iraq safer than it started. Nowhere did he credit the troops involved in the surge that made it possible to bring our troops now as opposed to later. Oddly enough, the midshipmen in attendance didn’t applaud until Obama promised to “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Only then, did the soon-to-be Naval Ensigns and Marine Corps Lieutenants applaud his words. It’s strength and resolve that we want, not candy-ass defeat and premature withdrawal.
He touted his decision to halt Naval personnel cuts while ignoring the fact that he cut spending on high-tech Naval vessels to replace aging destroyer fleets. While gloating over the call for more Marines, he neglected to mention that he is cutting the number of carrier groups from 11 to 10, making events like piracy more difficult to respond to. He noted that “we will maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen” while cutting missile defense funding at a time when both Iran and North Korea are actively testing new missile technologies.