WEST POINT – Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday, became the first woman to give a West Point commencement speech.
Harris is no stranger to being the first. She is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President, as was the case with other offices she has held.
Harris told the Class of 2023, “You stand on the broad shoulders of generations of Americans who have worn the uniform, including many barrier breakers and trailblazer.”
She noted that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the integration of women in the military, as well as the desegregation of our military, which Harris called “a reminder of a fundamental truth: Our military is strongest when it fully reflects the people of America.”
There are 941 graduates of the Class of 2023, which encompasses 216 women, 89 African-Americans, 65 Asian/Pacific Islanders, 152 Hispanics and six Native Americans. This is West Point’s 225th graduating class and the 44th anniversary of the first class to graduate women.
Harris told the cadets that there is, “no more noble work that a person can do than to serve our nation in uniform.” And she said the graduates were about to “join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.”
The upbeat and optimistic tone did come with some caution.
“It is clear you graduate into an increasingly unsettled world where longstanding principles are at risk,” she said. “In Ukraine, Russia’s aggression is an attack on the lives and freedom of the Ukrainian people and an attack on international rules and norms that have served as the foundation of international security and prosperity for generations.”
Harris also pointed to China, as well as autocrats who have become bolder, the persistent threat of terrorism, and an accelerating climate crisis that continues to disrupt lives and livelihoods.
But the graduates of West Point are prepared to meet any and all challenges.
“America has no greater resource, no greater strategic asset than the men and women who wear our uniform. Our soldiers are the best trained and most prepared in the world; the most effective, most cohesive, and most lethal warriors in the world,” Harris said.
59 class members who are prior service, 11 of those are combat veterans, can attest to the vice president’s statement. Photo Gallery