President Trump Participates in the United States Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony

President Trump Participates in the United States Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony

October 28, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


(Applause.) The President: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hello, midshipmen, hello. (Applause.) Great going,
and let me say that — to the entire brigade, please be
at ease, enjoy yourselves, because we are all here to celebrate the amazing class of 2018. Amazing job, thank you. (Applause.) Really something. Admiral Carter, thank you
for that wonderful introduction and for your leadership
and the incredible job you’ve done at this
storied academy. And thank you, Captain Chadwick,
for your dedication and service. Thank you to
Undersecretary Modly, Admiral Richardson,
General Walters, for joining us today. Thanks also to Senator Wicker,
Congressman Wittman, and Congressman Valadao. I want to recognize
the entire brigade for a tremendous year. This has been
a spectacular year for you. I’ve heard all about
your achievements. And a very special recognition
for the midshipmen fourth class. You are plebes no more. (Applause.) To all of the distinguished
faculty and staff, to the local sponsor families,
and most importantly, to the parents and grandparents
and family members who have helped our graduates
reach this joyous hour, today is your incredible
achievement also. They would’ve never made it
without you, you know that. So, I want to thank
our midshipmen. I want to thank your families. And thank you. America thanks you
more than anybody. You have done a spectacular job. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Finally, to the men and women
about to be commissioned as ensigns
in the Navy and second lieutenants
in the Marine Corps, let me say, on behalf
of the entire nation, we could not be more proud of the United States Naval Academy Class of 2018. Thank you. Great job,
congratulations to you all. Four years ago,
each of you made the most important
decision of your lives. You chose the path of hard
work, sweat, and sacrifice. You chose the life of honor,
courage, and commitment. You chose to serve the nation and defend our great
American flag. You chose the Navy,
blue and gold. From the first moments
of induction day through a grueling
six weeks of plebe summer, you endured and you persevered. And then the rest
of the brigade returned and the real test began. You developed morally,
mentally, and physically. You pored yourselves
into military tactics, seamanship, navigation, ethics,
and engineering. And when hard work
wasn’t enough, like generations before you, you gathered your pennies
and sought favor from the all-powerful
[unintelligible]. (Applause.) All-powerful,
a little bit different. Others worked hard
for their demerits at McGarvey’s and the Fleet Reserve Club. (Applause.) And so, today, in keeping
with tradition, I declare that all midshipmen on restriction for minor offenses — you are hereby absolved. (Applause.) That sounds like
a lot of people. (Laughter.) The Admiral will define
exactly what that means — so, Admiral, please go easy. Please, okay, please go easy. It’s a great group
of people here, Admiral. (Laughter.) I’m told that this class
led Navy athletics to the highest win percentage in your 172-year history. Think of that. (Applause.) That includes taking
the Army-Navy Star Series for the fourth straight year, a remarkable achievement
in sport and athletics. Remarkable. And because you care about
every contest against Army, for the record, this year,
Navy beat Army 19 times. And I will not mention —
I promised — who won the football game.
I will not mention it. (Laughter.) I won’t mention it, Admiral.
Refuse to say it. But that is a great achievement. And let me take a guess. You’re still not
tired of winning. Winning is such a great feeling. Isn’t it a great feeling? (Applause.) Winning — a great feeling,
nothing like winning. You have got to win. In every endeavor, the Class
of 2018 has shown its medal and it’s proved its might. You have earned your place in
that ancient league of sailors and shipmates,
captains and commanders, warriors and mariners,
and marines. You crave adventure —
hello, folks back there — (Laughter.) — you chase, discover, and you never flinch
in the eye of a raging storm. America is in your heart.
The ocean is in your soul. The saltwater runs
through your veins. You live your life according
to the final law of the Navy. The word impossible
does not exist, because Navy never quits. (Applause.) You don’t give up, you don’t
give in, you don’t back down, and you never surrender. Wherever you go,
wherever you serve, wherever your mission takes you, you only have one word in mind. And that’s victory.
It’s why you’re here. Victory — very important word. You are now leaders
in the most powerful and righteous force
on the face of the planet, the United States military. (Applause.) And we are respected again,
I can tell you that. We are respected again. (Applause.) A lot of things have happened,
we are respected again. For the last four years
you have walked the same paths as Navy’s greatest legends, the giants of Midway
and Coral Sea and Manila Bay. Here in Annapolis, the glorious
past is all around you and so are the stories
of your great heroes. One such hero who appears in
the pages of your old yearbooks is Bruce Voorhis. You know Bruce Van Voorhis,
well-known all over. Bruce hailed from Nevada
and was a member of the Naval Academy
Class of 1929. Beneath his picture
in the 1929 Lucky Bag, Bruce’s classmates wrote
that he spent most of his time teaching the city slickers from the east the correct
pronunciation of Nevada. And I had to learn that,
too, to win the state. (Applause.) Great place. He saw studying
as an unnecessary evil, and they remembered
in three cruises and four years in
blue-serge brass buttons, he left a trail
of broken hearts extended the full length
of both coasts and radiating for miles
around Crabtown. In other words, he was
just like you in many ways. (Laughter.) Just like you.
Not a lot of difference. Just over a decade
after his graduation, Lieutenant Commander Van Voorhis
found himself at war. Seventy-five years ago
this summer, he was in the South Pacific
commanding Bomber Squadron 102 during the Battle
of the Solomon Islands. That was a rough battle. His only brother had been killed
in the Bataan Death March. On July 6th, Bruce volunteered
for a mission to destroy a crucial enemy base. It was a rough time, it was
a rough, tough situation. He knew full well that
he would likely never return. He knew he was going to die. But he also knew
his daring action could prevent a surprise attack
on large-scale American forces. So, his plane took off alone
on a 700-mile flight. Bruce flew through
the darkness to his target, a tiny speck
on the vast open sea. He braved unrelenting
antiaircraft fire like nobody had ever
seen at that time and a trail of enemy planes
to single-handedly destroy this large enemy base including multiple
fortifications and a critical
communications link. And at this final act of valor, Bruce was caught in the blast
of one of his own bombs and perished in a remote
lagoon very far from here. His life was lost, but his
legacy will live forever. Many of you have seen the star
marking Bruce’s old room at Bancroft Hall commemorating his Congressional
Medal of Honor, our highest honor. Some here today
will trace his path to Pensacola to earn your wings. You may even make it
all the way out to the legendary
combat training school known as TOPGUN in Bruce’s beloved hometown
in Fallon, Nevada. There, you will have the honor to take flight
from Van Voorhis Field and remember a hero
who fought for his country and died for his homeland and saved so many lives
with his bravery. Each of you inherits
the legacy of the heroes who came before you. It’s a living history
passed down from officer to officer and generation
to generation. Each of you will make
your own mark on the Navy, the Marine Corps, the military, and the history
of our great nation. Seize today, and you
will shape tomorrow. In a few moments,
you will be commissioned into the mightiest
fighting forces of the air, the land, and the sea. Together, you will
blast off carriers — of which we’re
just now finishing the largest aircraft carrier in the world — launch off submarines — of which we have many
under construction — and ward off evil. You will bring comfort
to our friends, and you will strike fear
into the hearts of our enemies. Among our graduates today
will be 283 Naval Aviators, 134 submariners — (Applause.) — 256 Surface Warfare Officers
— (Applause.) — 70 Restricted Line Officers, and 15 Explosive Ordnance
Disposal Officers. (Applause.) 236 United States Marines — (Applause.) — and 35 very tough, very
well-conditioned Navy SEALs. (Applause.) Together, you are the tip of the
spear, the edge of the blade, and the front of
the shield defending and protecting
our great country. You know, there is no mission
our pilots can’t handle. There is no hill
our Marines can’t take. And there is no stronghold
the SEALs can’t breach. There is no sea
the Navy can’t brave, and there is no storm the
American sailor can’t conquer, because you know that
together there is nothing Americans can’t do. Absolutely nothing. (Applause.) In recent years
and even decades, too many people have
forgotten that truth. They have forgotten that our
ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over
the worst evils in history. In every generation, there have
been cynics and critics who try to tear down America. It’s not working
too well lately. But in recent years,
the problem grew worse. A growing number
used their platforms to denigrate America’s
incredible heritage, challenge America’s sovereignty,
and weaken America’s pride. But we know the truth,
will speak the truth, and we will defend that truth. America is the greatest
fighting force for peace, justice, and freedom
in the history of the world. (Applause.) And in case you haven’t noticed, we have become
a lot stronger lately. (Applause.) A lot. We are not going
to apologize for America. We are going to
stand up for America. No more apologies. We are going to stand up
for our citizens. We are going to stand up
for our values. And we are going to stand up for
our men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Because we know that a nation
must have pride in its history to have confidence
in its future. We are the nation
that built the highways, the railroads, the Empire
State Building in one year, the Golden Gate Bridge, and we are the nation
that built the Panama Canal. We trekked the mountains,
explored the oceans, and settled the vast frontier. We won two world wars,
defeated communism and fascism, and put a man
on the face of the moon. We cured disease,
pioneered science, and produced timeless works of
art that inspire the human soul. And on distant islands,
far-away battlefields, above the skies
and beneath the sea, the entire world
has borne witness to the unstoppable
strength, skill, and courage of
the United States Navy and the American Marines. (Applause.) Each of you enters service
at a truly exciting time for our country, for we are witnessing
the great reawakening of the American spirit
and of American might. We have rediscovered
our identity, regained our stride,
and we are proud again. Prosperity is booming at home, our economy is the strongest
it has ever been, and our country has
regained the respect that we used to have
long ago abroad. Yes, they are
respecting us again. Yes, America is back. (Applause.) We have begun
the great rebuilding of the United States military. We have ended the disastrous
defense sequester. No money for the military?
Those days are over. (Applause.) And we have just secured —
you’ve read all about it — a $700 billion — largest-ever amount of money — to support our
great war fighters. (Applause.) And I might add that next year,
the $700 billion, not million — they’re liking
the sound of million, but billion is better — the $700 billion
goes to $716 billion, and we are going to be
stronger than ever before. We will have the strongest
military that we have ever had, and it won’t even be close. And when did we need
it more than now? (Applause.) That means new ships;
you like that. We have now the lowest
number of ships we have had since World War I. And very soon, you are going to
be up to 355 beautiful ships — 355. (Applause.) That’s almost a couple
of hundred more ships. So, you’re going to be
around for a long time. We are not running
out of equipment. We’re not running out of ships. And that has been approved.
And we are honored by it. You are going to have
new equipment, and well-deserved pay raises. We just got to a big pay raise. First time in 10 years. We got you a big pay increase,
first time in over 10 years. I fought for you, that was
the hardest one to get. But you never had
a chance of losing. (Applause.) I represented you well,
I represented you well. And this week, we passed
new landmark legislation to give more choice and better
care to our great veterans. We’re going to take
care of our veterans. We’re doing a great job with it. (Applause.) We are taking care, finally,
after decades, we’re taking care
of our veterans. We passed VA Accountability. Everybody said
it couldn’t be done. That’s if you didn’t do a good
job, you couldn’t get fired. Now, you don’t do a good job,
you don’t take care of our vets, they look you right in the eye and they say,
“Jim, you’re fired! Out! Out! Fired, get him
out of there.” (Applause.) They all said
you couldn’t get it. They tried to get it
for 35 years. We’ll just say,
Get him out of here, he doesn’t take
care of our vets. Next year, we are committing
even more to our defenses, and we are committing
even more to our veterans. Because we know that
the best way to prevent war is to be fully
prepared for war. And hopefully, we never have
to use all of this beautiful, new,
powerful equipment. But you know, you are less
likely to have to use it if you have it
and if you know how to work it. And nobody knows how
to work it like you. (Applause.) And if a fight must come,
there is no other alternative. Victory, winning,
beautiful words, but that is what
it is all about. We are reestablishing the second
fleet in the Atlantic: bigger, better, stronger
than it has ever been before. We are rebuilding
our defense industrial base to forge American iron,
aluminum, and steel, which, by the way,
we just put tariffs on when it comes in
from other countries, okay? We are taking in a lot
of money now, our country. They pay that big,
beautiful tariff, it goes right into
building new ships. (Applause.) We’ve been taken advantage
of by the world. That is not going to be
happening anymore. You see what’s going on. So, we are building
a modern fleet manned by the greatest sailors
anywhere in the world. We’re sharpening
the fighting edge of everything from
Marines infantry squads to combat ships to deliver
maximum, lethal force. The enemy has to know
we have that. And we are recommitting
to this fundamental truth: we are a maritime nation. (Applause.) And being a maritime nation,
we are surrounded by sea. We must always
dominate that sea. We will always
dominate the oceans. We are showing
what we can achieve when natural American
confidence is backed by unrivaled American power and unquestioned
American resolve. Also, there is another word
that’s never used, and I will use it today. It’s called talent. We have talent and a lot
of other people don’t, and a lot of other
countries don’t. We have great talent
and I have seen it. In other words, we are
showing what is possible when America starts acting
like its sailors and Marines. Our nation cannot be strong
without the heroes whose hearts stir the words,
“Don’t give up the ship.” A very famous phrase. (Applause.) We even use it in business,
things are going bad, you say, “Don’t give up the ship! Keep fighting,
don’t give up the ship.” But it’s really —
you guys started it. (Laughter.) Our country cannot prevail
without those who rally to Admiral Farragut’s
famous cry, you know it well, Damn the
torpedoes, full speed ahead! (Applause.) Damn the torpedoes,
full speed ahead. You hail from every background and you come from
every walk of life. But each of you is formed by the same defining choice to answer the call. You all share the same heart,
the same blood, and swear by the same motto,
“Not for self, but country.” Great motto. With us today are living
symbols of that long and unbroken chain
of American patriots, members of the Naval Academy
Class of 1968. That’s great,
stand up, please, please. (Applause.) Exactly 50 years ago,
they were in your shoes. They embarked into service and
they made America very proud. To everyone in
the class of 1968, we thank you and we salute you. Like those who came before them, today’s graduates
will serve America through times of triumph and some hours of peril. There will be hours of peril. You will face new challenges, even challenges that
you can’t envision, but you’ll find new solutions
that nobody can even imagine. Among your ranks is
the next Chester Nimitz, the next Grace Hopper,
the next John Lejeune. Future generations
will talk about you. They will tell your stories,
speak of your courage, and someone many years from now
will be standing right here, in my position, paying tribute
to your great service. It will happen. Because you already know
the keys to success. You know that as long as we
are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting
for, we will not fail. We will not fail,
we cannot fail. We will always
succeed, always. (Applause.) As long as we are united
with the same mission, the same purpose,
the same patriotic heart, we will win, because we are
one people, one family, and one glorious
nation under God. (Applause.) Together we struggle, together
we strive, together we pray. And together we triumph
as citizens, as patriots, as Americans. We stand on
the shoulders of heroes who gave their sweat,
their blood, their tears, and their very lives
for this great country of ours. This is our heritage,
this is our home. And this is our pledge. We are all in for America
like never before. We are all in
for our great country. (Applause.) So, to the Naval Academy
of the class of 2018, I say a number of things. Number one, I say that
I was given an option. I could make this
commencement address, which is a great honor for me, and immediately leave
and wave goodbye, or I could stay and shake hands
with just the top 100, or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. (Applause.) What should I do? What should I do? Audience: Stay! Stay! Stay! The President: Stay? I’ll stay, I’ll stay. (Applause.) I’ll stay. But to the class of 2018,
I do say, strive for excellence. Live for adventure, think big. Dream bigger, push further. Sail faster, fly higher. And never, ever stop
reaching for greatness. Never stop reaching
for the stars. You know you’re up to the task. You’re among the finest people
anywhere in the world, the smartest, the strongest. You know you will make us proud. We know that glory will be yours
because you are winners. You are warriors,
you are fighters. You are champions, and you
will lead us only to victory. Good luck, may God be with you. God bless America,
and anchors away! Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)