Trump said that carrying on civilization depends on people “who love their country with all their heart and energy and soul” and remarked that U.S. soldiers from the academy helped end “the evil of slavery within one lifetime of our founding.”
The graduating class featured 1,107 cadets representing every state in America.
“The members of this class have come from every state in our union. You have come from the farms and the cities, from states big and small, and from every race, religion, color, and creed. But when you entered these grounds, you became part of one team, and on family, proudly serving one American nation,” Trump said.
“You became brothers and sisters pledging allegiance to the same timeless principles, joined together in a common mission: to protect our country, to defend our people, and to carry on the traditions of freedom, equality and liberty that so many gave their lives to secure. You exemplify the power of shared national purpose to transcend all differences and achieve true unity. Today, you graduate as one class, and you embody one noble creed: duty, honor, country.”
Cadets were seated about six feet apart, following social distancing recommendations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Republican president repeatedly touched on themes of nationalism, telling those gathered that the goals of the military now are not to stay embroiled in “endless wars” but to defend the United States from foreign enemies.
He championed America as “the greatest country in human history.” He called the U.S. military “the greatest force for peace and justice the world has ever known.”
As protests and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in Minneapolis continue—with the subsequent fallout including concessions and sharp changes in a number of institutions—Trump pointedly said that, historically, America is unique due to “the durability of its institutions against the passions and prejudices of the moment.”
“When times are turbulent, when the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal,” he said, calling the foundations of the country family, God, country, liberty, and justice while urging cadets to remain “loyal, faithful, and true.”
Besides graduates, people in the audience included Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), chairman of the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, and Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, the 60th superintendent of the academy.