President Obama commissioned almost 1,000 Second Lieutenants in the U.S.Army during commencement ceremonies at West Point Saturday. He told the 2010 graduating class, "you signed up knowing your service would send you into harms way." But before commissioning them, the President engaged in the tradition of granting the cadets amnesty for "minor disciplinary actions. Joking, Mr. Obama said he would leave it to others to determine what defined "minor." But then it was down to serious business. Noting that 78 alumni of the "Long Grey Line" had died in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama praised the cadets for their excellence in academics and commitment to their country.
President Obama last visited West Point almost six months ago in December when he unveiled his Afghanistan strategy of sending 30,000 additional troops to the country in an effort to increase security and protection in Taliban influenced areas. It was something the President noted again in his remarks. "As we end the war in Iraq, we are pressing forward in Afghanistan." With more troops on the ground in Afghanistan, the amount of casualties grows.
The President told the cadets that "you, and all who wear America's uniform , remain the cornerstone of the country's national defense." He lauded the bravery of those who fight extremism every day and reminded the audience that terrorism will not go away but America will prevail. "Let's be clear: al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. They lead no religion. We need not give in to fear every time a terrorist tries to scare us...We are the United States of America," the President said to loud applause.
Their Commander-in-Chief personally handed out diplomas to top cadets and shook every graduate's hand. After reciting their commission oath, there was one last task at hand, the traditional hat toss, high in the air and accompanied by children racing onto the field of Michie Stadium to claim their prize.
The Class of 2010 chose "Loyal 'Til the End" as their class motto.