Biden Addresses Graduating Coast Guard Cadets

May 23, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden gave the commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London today/Wednesday. As WNPR's Harriet Jones reports he stressed the new dangers of a changing world.

The 227 graduates of the class of 2013 filed onto Cadet Memorial Field under a cloudy New London sky Wednesday, but mood was far from grey. Superintendent Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz welcomed the cadets and their families.

"Here at the Academy we take great pride in being locally relevant and nationally prominent, and today is the best of both."

The graduates will now go on to duties aboard ship. Distinguished honor graduate Joe Sullivan Springhetti spoke of the upcoming challenges of service not as an obligation, but as an adventure.

"What makes us different is that you and I have promised our potential -- we have pledged it. Not to ourselves, not to a corporation or a bottom line -- but to our country and to humanity."

Vice President Joe Biden began his address remembering the people of Moore, Oklahoma.

"They weathered the worst that nature has to offer, and responded with the best that humanity has to offer. And with the remarkable courage that leads a person to put the safety of others ahead of their own."

He went on to talk of the changing role of the Coast Guard. He noted that the service saved the lives of more than 36 hundred people last year, saying it's increasingly integrated with its sister military branches in a more uncertain world.

"No graduating class gets to choose the time into which they graduate, and every time is different, but you're graduating into a world that is rapidly changing, changing utterly. From challenges and mission to changing climates."

Biden also got to perform one of the more lighthearted roles of a commencement speaker at the Academy, absolving the graduating cadets of any minor infractions they've committed while at school in New London.