President Joe Biden said Friday to Naval Academy graduates that they would be "representatives, defenders of democracy" as free societies are threatened by Russia's invasion in Ukraine and China's maritime expansion.
Biden delivered a commencement speech to more than 1,000 newly commissioned officers and second lieutenants at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. He stated that the West's response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "brutal” war in Ukraine showed the world is not aligned on geography but in terms of "values."
He described the invasion as "a direct assault on fundamental tenets rules-based international order," and added, "that's where you're graduating to."
Biden stated that Putin's actions were meant to "Finland-ize all Europe to make it neutral." He NATO-ized Europe instead.
Biden stated to graduates that they will learn how to fly the most advanced planes, crew cutting-edge ships, and use novel technologies. However, the "most powerful tool" that they'll have is our unmatched global alliances and the strength and power of our partnerships.
He stated that "these long-standing maritime principles are foundational to a global economy, and global stability." "You will help to knit together our allies from Europe and our allies from the Indo-Pacific."
Biden didn't address the two mass shootings that occurred in as many weeks during his remarks. The White House announced that he and Jill Biden, first lady, will be visiting Uvalde, Texas, Sunday to comfort grieving families following Tuesday's massacre at an elementary school, which resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers.
Biden's address to the Naval Academy was his first commencement speech of the year. Biden will also deliver remarks Saturday at the University of Delaware's graduation ceremony, which is his alma mater.
The president began his speech by praising the resilience of the class 2022 in the face COVID-19's pandemic. He also pardoned any minor infractions committed by midshipmen during their time at the academy.
He also expressed gratitude for Sen. John McCain, a former Republican senator, and said, "Being there, I can't stop thinking about John and how much the naval academy meant to him."