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For Immediate Release May 28, 2014
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by the President at the United
States Military Academy Commencement
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Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony | whitehouse.gov
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U.S. Military Academy-West Point
West Point, New York
10:22 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. And thank you,
General Caslen, for that introduction. To General Trainor, General Clarke, the faculty and staff
at West Point — you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding
mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army. I’d like to acknowledge the Army’s
leadership — General McHugh — Secretary McHugh, General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack
Reed, who is here, and a proud graduate of West Point himself.
To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line. Among
you is the first all-female command team — Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff. In Calla Glavin,
you have a Rhodes Scholar. And Josh Herbeck proves that West Point accuracy extends
beyond the three-point line. To the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at
West Point: As Commander-in-Chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for
minor conduct offenses. (Laughter and applause.) Let me just say that nobody ever did that
for me when I was in school. (Laughter.)
I know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families. Joe DeMoss, whose son
James is graduating, spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the
sacrifices you’ve made. “Deep inside,” he wrote, “we want to explode with pride at what they
are committing to do in the service of our country.” Like several graduates, James is a combat
veteran. And I would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute — not only to the
veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and
Afghanistan, as well as their families. (Applause.)
This is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much
for our freedom, a few days after Memorial Day. You are the first class to graduate since 9/11
who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. (Applause.) When I first spoke at
West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. We were preparing to surge
in Afghanistan. Our counterterrorism efforts were focused on al Qaeda’s core leadership —
those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks. And our nation was just beginning a long climb out
of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed
our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s
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