Vice President Kamala Harris addresses graduates of the Naval Academy
Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the graduates at the commissioning ceremony for the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday.
KAMALA HARRIS: Hello.
KAMALA HARRIS: Acting Secretary Thomas Harker, General David Berger, Admiral Mike Gilday. Looking at these aspirants, I know we are all filled with pride. Vice Admiral Sean Buck, Captain TR Buchanan, faculty and staff, thank you for making such a great crew. Alumni, thank you for the support you have given over the years to this great institution.
And to my military aide, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Machniak, who graduated in 2004, I am very proud to have you with me today. Family and friends of these graduates, thank you for the sacrifices you have already made and will make. And I also want to thank Kim and John Johnson. Your son was taken away far too soon and I promise you he will not be forgotten. And finally, to the 2021 class, congratulations. Congratulations.
And look how far you’ve come. So you endured 0530 PT and Prono exams. You have excelled on athletic fields and in academic exercises. You enjoyed the Dillows Fair. I know. Karaoke at Harvest.
You rolled up your sleeves and got the vaccine. And you have made it to this day. You have done so to date.
And this day, this day, is not just a beginning – this day which is a commissioning. And in a few minutes you will be sworn in. And it is in fact the same oath that I took as Vice President, an oath to support our Constitution and to defend it against all enemies; an oath that has its roots in the founding of our nation.
And no matter what changes in our world, the burden in this oath is constant. Remember that when you enter the world, the world you enter is changing rapidly. In fact, we are at an important turning point.
Look at the last few months and you know what I’m talking about. And look at several moments in our country’s history for perspective. Think about it – there was the world before the stock market crash in 1929, and the world after; the world before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the world after; the world before the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and the world after; the world before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the world after.
At some of these critical times, our nation has been forced to take a serious look at our priorities and our preparedness. And another turning point was September 11, 20 years ago this year, when planes hit the Twin Towers and our Pentagon, when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
That day shaped your whole life. And it shaped our whole nation. He tested our systems, our structures, our very position in the world. Well, aspirants, we are now entering the next era, a new era, a new era with its own tests, its own challenges, and its own opportunities.
The global pandemic that you see, of course, accelerated what was going on before. And it has accelerated our world into a new era. It has always had an impact on our world. It has always influenced our perspective. And if we weren’t clear before, we now know that our world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent and our world is fragile.
Just think – a deadly pandemic can spread around the world in just a few months. A gang of pirates can disrupt the fuel supply to an entire coast. A country’s carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the entire planet. This, seekers, is the time in which we find ourselves. And it is unlike any other era before.
The challenge now, the challenge that awaits us now, is how to mount a modern defense against these modern threats. So let me share with you, for example, a personal experience. A few years ago, when I was in the United States Senate, I visited the USS Scranton. It was outside of San Diego, California.
And at the time, I was also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. So when I was on the ship, I asked the officers. I said, hey tell me what does it take to protect such a valuable asset from cyber attacks? And they told me, you know, it’s pretty straightforward – hardware and experts. Well, as I see it, aspirants, you, you, you are these experts.
On the issue of cybersecurity, adversaries look to our military technology, our intellectual property, our elections, our critical infrastructure. The ransomware attack by criminal hackers earlier this month – it was a wake-up call. In fact, there have been many warning shots.
We must therefore defend our nation against these threats. And, at the same time, we need to make progress in the things you’ve learned, things like quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics and things that will give our nation a strategic advantage. And you will be the ones who will. You will be the ones to do it because the US military is the best, the bravest and the brightest.
And just think – from walkie-talkies to the internet to satellite navigation, the U.S. military has been at the forefront of research, development, and technological advancement. This is the point of American pride. And as I watch you all, I know you will benefit from this leadership.
And then of course there’s climate change, which is a very real threat to our national security. And I look at you. And I know you are one of the experts who will navigate and mitigate this threat. You are ocean engineers who will help navigate ships through thinning ice.
You are mechanical engineers who will help strengthen the bases for reflection. You are electrical engineers, who will soon be helping to convert solar and wind power to power, convert solar power and wind power to combat power. And ask any sailor today.
Does she prefer carrying 20 pounds of batteries or a rolled up solar panel? And I’m sure she’ll tell you a solar panel, and so will he.
Americans are counting on you – the best, the bravest, the brightest. We saw this during COVID-19 when Americans watched how members of our military helped vaccinate our nation because you know that biological threats, like pandemics and infectious diseases, are yet another threat to this. time. And you face this threat.
Our military helped develop the technology that made the vaccine possible. Naval researchers also figured out how to use 3D knitting machines to make masks. Naval laboratories have been monitoring the spread of the disease, and the Marine Corps and Navy are making the connection between the pandemic and the medical readiness of our fighting forces for the future.
Class 2021, you are ready for it all. You are ready to face any threat. And you are ready for this new era. And it’s not just because of the knowledge and skills that you have acquired here or what you will continue to learn, but it is because of something more.
It’s because of who each of you is. It’s because of who, collectively, you are. As I conclude today, this is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about you. As Vice President, I know the United States Navy fairly well. Every day, in fact, I am surrounded by sailors and Marines and your tradition and your history. And I mean it literally.
So I often travel on Marine 2. In fact, that’s how I arrived today. My residence is on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory. My West Wing office includes an office built by Seabees of Timbers of the USS Constitution. My ceremonial office, my ceremonial office was once occupied by the Secretary of the Navy. And posted there, I placed the epaulettes of your brigade commander, Midshipman Sydney Barber.
And so here is what I know. Aspirant, you are tireless. You are ambitious. You are a fierce fighting force. You are idealists in the truest sense of the word. You are the embodiment of American aspiration. So hang on, because in your career you may witness some of the worst in mankind.
But promise that you will never forget the best of who we are, that you will never forget the ideals you stand for: duty, honor, loyalty. Fight for these ideals and fight for our democracy. And remember, our Constitution is not just something to defend. He’s a guide. It is a guide for your service. It begins with three simple words: “We the people”.
Not me, “we”. Our nation was designed to be a team sport. And we are in the same boat. So you know, well I’m just going to share with you on the way to the stadium this morning I stopped at the cemetery to pay tribute to my dear old colleague, a great and brave US Senator John McCain. And yes.
So most people don’t know, he wanted to be buried next to his best friend, whom he met in the backyard, Admiral Chuck Larson. This is the ultimate example of what I mean, together. So the midshipmen, throughout our history, the officers of the United States Navy, the officers of the United States Navy have risked everything to defend our freedoms.
Today you will swear to do the same. You are the next link in the chain. And so, aspirants, when you rise to take the oath, I want you to know that as we embark on this new era, President Joe Biden and I, our entire nation, have great confidence in you and we are proud of you- – so very, very proud. Congratulations again. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.