SHAKO: Service Academies’ Graduations

May 31, 2021 at 2:13 am 2 comments

Long Hard Road Over, But the Journey’s Just Beginning.

For the first time since 2019, America’s four military and naval service academies were able to hold traditional commencement events outdoors, with friends and families on campus, instead of viewing a video at home.

Annapolis, Maryland

At the U.S. Naval Academy graduation in Annapolis, Maryland on May 28, history was made when Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman commencement speaker to address graduating midshipmen.

“Midshipmen, you are tireless; you are ambitious; you are a fierce fighting force,” the vice president said. “You are idealists in the truest sense; you are the embodiment of American aspiration, so hold onto that because in your career you may witness some of the worst of humanity.”

In her keynote address, Harris told the graduates they would take the same oath to the U.S. Constitution as she did during her vice-presidential swearing in — to support the nation’s Constitution and 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 charge in this oath is constant, she said.

“Remember that, as you walk out into the world, because the world you all are walking into is rapidly changing,” Harris said.

(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Midshipmen 2nd Class Krystyna Bartocci)

The 1,084 graduates consisted of 778 men and 306 women. Of that number, 784 (547 men, 237 women) are now Navy ensigns. And 274 (212 men and 62 women) are now 2nd lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

After three cheers for those they leave behind, the newly commissioned U.S. Navy ensigns and Marine Corps second lieutenants of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2021 tossed their covers at the conclusion of the graduation and commissioning ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.


Colorado Springs, Colorado

The 1,019 cadets graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on May 26 heard that the balance and stability in the world which has existed for more than 75 years is now at risk. And, Army General Mark Milley — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff —  told the recently-commissioned young officers that it will be their job to maintain a now fragile world peace.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)

Right now, Milley said, the United States is in great power competition with nations like Russia and China. That competition must not escalate, he told the new second lieutenants.

The threat landscape that exists now, Milley said, includes artificial intelligence, robotics, human engineering, hypersonics and long-range precision fires that all provide capability beyond what has ever existed in human history.

“The country that masters these technologies, combines them with doctrine and develops the leadership to take advantage of it — the side that does that best — is going to have a decisive advantage at the start of the next war,” Milley said. “It’s your challenge to be on that side. You will lead us as a nation, not just as an Air Force or a Space Force.”

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Laurel M. Richards)

When the speeches were over, the awards given and the commissioning complete, students-turned-officers threw their caps in the air as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” performed a fly-over.


West Point, New York

The 996 graduating cadets of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2021 had Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general and West Point grad as their commencement speaker on May 22.

(DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders)

Among those lessons were the value of being well prepared; learning to focus; following with loyalty; questioning with rigor, character, discipline, teamwork; mastering one’s trade; telling the truth; treating people with dignity and respect; and leading with honor, he said.

“Those values are the lasting legacy of West Point. Those are the guideposts that will steer you right when you face the hardest decisions of your lives,” he said.

Austin said the cadets will face new challenges and adversity in a rapidly changing world.

“You’re about to graduate into a changing country and a changing world where many of the old ways of doing business don’t hold up anymore,” he said. “You’re seeing raw divisions at home and the painful aftermath of the pandemic.

(DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders)


New London, Connecticut

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Thieme)

President Joseph R. Biden. delivered the keynote address at the Coast Guard Academy during the 140th Commencement Exercises on May 19. The Coast Guard Academy graduated 240 new officers along with seven international students.

In his remarks, the president noted the Class of 2021 “is just over one third women.” He noted he had recently nominated Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, an academy graduate form the Class of 1985, to be the Coast Guard’s first female four-star admiral. “We need to see more women at the highest levels of command,” Biden said.  “We have to make sure that women have the chance to succeed and thrive throughout their careers,” he added.

“The class of 2021, you have it all. You really do. And we need you badly,” Biden said, adding: “that’s not hyperbole; the country needs you.

“The press always asks me,” he continued “why I’m so optimistic about America’s chances in the world. And I’ve said from the time I decided to run, ‘Because of this generation.’ You’re the most progressive, best-educated, least prejudiced, most open generation in American history. We need you badly. You’re ready; it’s time to get underway.”

Entry filed under: Air Force, Aircraft, Army, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, SHAKO, Traditions, U.S. Navy, women in the military. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (May 28, 2021) SHAKO: Two Monuments and the Continuing Irony of U.S. History

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GP  |  May 31, 2021 at 7:33 am

  • 2. John M. Doyle  |  June 30, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for this reminder, GP.


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May 2021


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