Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to deliver a US Naval Academy commencement address

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the graduation and commission ceremony at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 28, 2021.

  • Vice President Harris became the first woman to give a commencement address at the Naval Academy.
  • She told graduates they would be taking “an oath to support our Constitution and defend it against all enemies.”
  • Harris also paid respects to the late Sen. John McCain, a prominent Naval Academy graduate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the graduates of the United States Naval Academy on Friday, she became the first female commencement speaker in its 175-year-history.

At the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, Harris told the graduates that they would be taking “an oath to support our Constitution and defend it against all enemies.”

“No matter what changes in our world, the charge in this oath is constant,” she emphasized.

Harris spoke of the immense challenges that graduates would face, including the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and cybersecurity threats.

She called climate change “a very real threat to our national security” and lauded the graduates for being part of the future for tackling the issue.

“I look at you and I know you are among the experts who will navigate and mitigate this threat,” she said. “You are ocean engineers who will help navigate ships through thinning ice. You are mechanical engineers who will help reinforce sinking bases. You are electrical engineers who will soon help convert solar and wind energy into power, convert solar and wind energy into combat power.”

She told the graduates that they would be critical in securing the country’s infrastructure.

“Foreign adversaries have their sights set on our military technology, our intellectual property, our elections, our critical infrastructure,” she said. “The way I see it, midshipmen, you are those experts on the issue of cybersecurity.”

She added: “We must defend our nation against these threats. And at the same time, we must make advances in things that you’ve been learning, things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence and robotics, and things that will put our nation at a strategic advantage. You will be the ones to do it because the United States military is the best, the bravest, and the most brilliant.”

Kamala Harris
Vice President Harris displays her US Naval Academy jacket.

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Harris also praised the military officers who have helped vaccinate Americans across the country.

The vice president’s speech comes as the Pentagon accelerates the timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, which will likely occur in mid-July, up from an earlier projected date of September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

She told the graduates that the September 11, 2001, attack “shaped your entire life, and it shaped our entire nation,” and said that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the fabric of American society.

“If we weren’t clear before, we know now: The world is interconnected,” she said. “Our world is interdependent. And our world is fragile.”

Harris also gave a nod to female graduates only 46 years since Congress mandated that women could be admitted to service academies.

“Just ask any Marine today, would she rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or solar panels, and I am positive, she will tell you a solar panel – and so would he,” she laughingly said.

She then paid respects to the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a graduate of the academy, whom she called “a great and courageous American.”

McCain, who passed away in August 2018, is buried at the US Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis.

“Most people don’t know he wanted to be buried next to his best friend who he met on the yard, Admiral Chuck Larson,” she said. “That is the ultimate example of what I mean, in it together.”

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden gave his first commencement address as commander-in-chief at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

“No class gets to choose the world into which it graduates, and demands and the challenges you’re going to face in your career are going to look very different than those who walked these halls before you,” he told the graduates. “You chose, as a class motto – ‘We are the future.’ I don’t think you have any idea how profound that assertion is.”

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Biden remembered ‘the courage and skill’ of US forces on 10-year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden

Obama during Osama Bin Laden campaign.
US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011.

  • President Joe Biden issued a statement to mark 10 years since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • “We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell – and we got him,” Biden said.
  • Biden has committed to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It has been ten years since US Special Forces conducted a raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden marked the 10-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death, which represented a huge victory for Americans in the fight against terrorism.

At the time of the raid, Biden was serving as vice president under then-President Barack Obama.

“Ten years ago, I joined President Obama and members of our national security team, crowded into the Situation Room to watch as our military delivered long-awaited justice to Osama bin Laden,” Biden said in a statement. “It is a moment I will never forget – the intelligence professionals who had painstakingly tracked him down; the clarity and conviction of President Obama in making the call; the courage and skill of our team on the ground.”

He added: “It had been almost ten years since our nation was attacked on 9/11 and we went to war in Afghanistan, pursuing al Qaeda and its leaders. We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell – and we got him.”

After the 9/11 terror attacks, the US invaded Afghanistan to bring down the terrorist organization Al Qaeda. The execution of bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, was a major accomplishment for the Obama administration.

“We kept the promise to all those who lost loved ones on 9/11: that we would never forget those we had lost, and that the United States will never waver in our commitment to prevent another attack on our homeland and to keep the American people safe,” Biden continued in his statement.

Since bin Laden’s death, the US has reduced the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan, and Biden has committed to withdrawing troops from the country by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

“As we bring to an end America’s longest war and draw down the last of our troops from Afghanistan, al Qaeda is greatly degraded there,” Biden said. “But the United States will remain vigilant about the threat from terrorist groups that have metastasized around the world.”

He added: “We will continue to monitor and disrupt any threat to us that emerges from Afghanistan. And we will work to counter terrorist threats to our homeland and our interests in cooperation with allies and partners around the world.”

Biden ended his statement by thanking the service members that have valiantly fought to protect the US.

“We will continue to honor all the brave women and men, our military, our intelligence and counterterrorism professionals, and so many others, who continue their extraordinary work to keep the American people safe today,” he said. “They give their best to our country, and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”

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