During his U.S.Coast Guard Commencement Speech, President Biden urges for stronger maritime security amid the rise of threats from China and Russia
The sun is shining brightly on the field where white folding chairs are socially distanced in front of the stage. The bleachers are sparse, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Red, white, and blue bunting is draped on the front of the stage and along the fence that separates the field from the Thames River, in which a U.S. Coast Guard ship is floating behind the stage.
The commencement ceremony began at 11 a.m. with the 240 hatless Coast Guard graduates clad in white uniforms, their graduation caps can be seen under their seats.
Biden entered the stage at 11:40 a.m. He acknowledged the heat and the strength of the graduates to endure it in their heavy uniforms. The President thanked many people present, including Mayer Passero of New London, Connecticut, which is where the commencement was held.
Biden emphasized how “Vital the Coast Guard is to our economic or environmental and our national security.” He took a moment to talk about his late son, Hunter Biden, and his contributions to the United States Army and explain why the military is so important to the President. The president thanked the other members of the Coast Guard and the graduating class for their sacrifice, effort, and time in the program, “I hope that you take immense pride in all that time in the Academy, because you’ve achieved something few others can claim to survive.”
Ensign Charlee Kraiss, left, Ensign Isaac Lalonde, center, and others toss their hats in the air as planes fly over at the commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (@AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) @AP_Images @USCGAcademy pic.twitter.com/j7xC4ooKAl
— Andrew Harnik (@andyharnik) May 19, 2021
After thanking and acknowledging the graduating class, Biden shifted his speech to maritime national security, “For decades, the United States has underwritten international maritime security…but as you know, increasingly, we’re seeing the rules challenged both by the rapid advance of technology and the disruptive actions of nations like China and Russia…” He then vowed to support the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas and preserve the waters of our planet for all. He urged for mutual respect between all nations while highlighting the contributions and victories of the National Coast Guard in keeping our maritime borders secure and safe.
Of the class motto, “We are the future,” Biden said: “I don’t think you have any idea how profound that assertion is. The world is changing. We’re at a significant inflection point.”
The President ended his speech by thanking the cadets, “You’re the most progressive, best educated, least prejudiced…we need you badly.” He thanked God, the Coast Guard, and the United States of America before leaving the stage.