This afternoon the Vice President gave the commencement address at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, and spoke with awe of the tradition the graduates in the audience were becoming a part of:
You all possess traits that Secretary Bancroft knew were necessary when he set up this Academy 165 years ago. But you all also possess skills, talents, and capacity that are beyond -- far beyond anything -- anything Secretary Bancroft could have thought of 165 years ago.
But notwithstanding that, you are part of a long continuum. You're writing a new chapter in a long history of a strong tradition of this great Naval Academy. You’re all going to be part of a fraternity that goes back 165 years and binds you together like little I have seen in my experience. No matter how long you serve in uniform, even when you’re out of uniform, you will come across fellow Annapolis graduates, share sea stories, discuss those “Four years by the Bay” -- and know -- and know like few others in the nation can know that wherever you go there is somebody who will have your back, even though they don't know you personally.
That’s an awesome sense of pride and patriotism. And it’s an awesome sense of pride and patriotism that comes over you all when you sing “Navy Blue and Gold.” It’s a feeling that few have a right to share like all of you. This place is special, even to those of us who didn’t attend it. This place is special. And you’ve had a special experience that has given you a bond that’s going to last you a lifetime. You will be amazed how tight that bond is and how long it will last.
To be clear though, he made clear that he was in awe of the graduates on their own merits as well:
You know, for four long years now, you’ve looked forward to this moment -- they’ve looked forward to it, as well -- to watch you walk across this stage: Marines, aviators, SWOs, SEALs, E.O.D., submariners -- and there may be just a special bit of pride for the families of the 11 -- the 11 who will be the first Naval Academy women to serve on submarines.
Ladies and gentlemen, for all of you, the breadth of the assignments you’ve taken on is matched only by the depth of the skill you’ll leave this field with. You’ve been trained by the very best. And you leave here with an astounding capacity to lead.