[WATCH] ‘Biden Calm’ On Full Display at Coast Guard Graduation Ceremony
Coast Guard Academy graduates were treated to a pretty impressive Keynote Speaker for their commencement ceremony: President Joe Biden. During his remarks (which occasionally lost the audience’s attention for its lack of personal threats or rants about election fraud), the President took a moment to ask his attendees to stand and turn to their parents in gratitude for all of their support.
The in-person ceremony marked more of a return to normalcy after last year’s ceremony went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduates were allowed only a limited number of guests each, but families were able to sit maskless in the bleachers on the sunny, 79-degree day. The past four years have been a long journey for the ensigns, culminating in a day both exciting and emotional.
The President recalled when he addressed the academy as Vice President in 2013, when he told cadets, “This is not your father’s Coast Guard.” But he joked Wednesday to one of the graduates, “First-class Eric Schultz, this IS your father’s Coast Guard,” considering his father is U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz.
Biden said his 2013 comments were about how the Coast Guard was “adapting so rapidly to changing conditions.” His remarks on Wednesday doubled down on that statement. Of the graduates, 34% are women and 34% are minority students, with seven students coming from three other countries: Georgia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. In his speech, President Biden said we “need to see more women at the highest levels of command.”
The President also spoke to the COVID19 pandemic and how the students adapted to such an unexpected and unprecedented curveball thrown in their educational path. “You found ways to keep many of the academy’s traditions alive and maybe even formed a few new ones,” he said. When listing some of these traditions, Biden referenced Slice Pizza Bar in New London, a favorite hangout for cadets.
A few takeaways from Biden's speech at the @USCGAcademy:
The topics of climate change, the pandemic and international trading/related foreign policy dominated his speech.
Also, he mentioned Slice Pizza Bar in New London, for those looking for local references. @thedayct
— Sten Spinella (@stenspin) May 19, 2021
“You passed through 100th week, and maybe spent a little too much time at The Slice,” Biden said to loud cheers. “You can clap. Come on, man, you’re moving on. Show a little courage.”
Biden also joked that he was addressing a “really dull class” when a barb directed at the Navy didn’t land many laughs.
— Erica Moser (@Erica_Faith13) May 19, 2021
President Biden spoke for about 25 minutes, touching on various social issues facing the Class of 2021. He said his administration is “committed to taking on the scourge of sexual harassment and assault in the military,” and referenced discussions on racial equity at the academy in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Biden eventually came to foreign policy issues and elaborated on what graduates will be facing, including pandemic and natural disaster response efforts, as well as matters of national security, such as trade with international partners.
“With the pace of climate change accelerating, we’re seeing more frequent and more intense storms and calls for you to respond,” Biden said. “Last year was the most active hurricane season on record … And the Coast Guard was always there to respond, even at the height of the pandemic.”
The President also personally handed each graduate their diplomas.
Biden is handing each Coast Guard Academy graduate their commission scroll as they cross the stage, and is taking a photo with each one. There are 240 graduates. pic.twitter.com/uEMklavZg6
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) May 19, 2021
True to form, President Biden also lingered to speak to people who had gathered around him after his speech.
— Karen Florin (@karen_florin) May 19, 2021
Watch the President’s speech, below.