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Pence Tells West Point Cadets America Honors Their Service

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2017 — In this time of uncertainty and danger, America needs the service of all its citizens, Vice President Mike Pence said yesterday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. 

West Point Cadet Christian Nattiel, the U.S. Military Academy’s first African American Rhodes Scholar, and retired Army Major Pat Locke, the first female African American USMA graduate, present a bust to Vice President Mike Pence during the Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper Dinner at the academy in West Point, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2017. The dinner is held annually to commemorate the life of Flipper, West Point’s first African-American graduate. Army photo by Carmine Cocchia
West Point Cadet Christian Nattiel, the U.S. Military Academy’s first African American Rhodes Scholar, and retired Army Major Pat Locke, the first female African American USMA graduate, present a bust to Vice President Mike Pence during the Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper Dinner at the academy in West Point, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2017. The dinner is held annually to commemorate the life of Flipper, West Point’s first African-American graduate. Army photo by Carmine Cocchia
West Point Cadet Christian Nattiel, the U.S. Military Academy’s first African American Rhodes Scholar, and retired Army Major Pat Locke, the first female African American USMA graduate, present a bust to Vice President Mike Pence during the Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper Dinner at the academy in West Point, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2017. The dinner is held annually to commemorate the life of Flipper, West Point’s first African-American graduate. Army photo by Carmine Cocchia Pence Presents
West Point Cadet Christian Nattiel, the U.S. Military Academy’s first African American Rhodes Scholar, and retired Army Major Pat Locke, the first female African American USMA graduate, present a bust to Vice President Mike Pence during the Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper Dinner at the academy in West Point, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2017. The dinner is held annually to commemorate the life of Flipper, West Point’s first African-American graduate. Army photo by Carmine Cocchia

Pence spoke at the annual Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper Dinner -- an event marking the extraordinary life of the first African American graduate of the academy.

Flipper faced extreme prejudice and persevered to earn his commission in 1877. He was accused and court martialed for a crime he did not commit and ejected from the Army in 1882. President Bill Clinton righted that wrong with a pardon in 1999.

The academy has honored its first African American graduate with the annual dinner.

World Riven by Conflict’

Pence emphasized that the nation needs the service of its military officers “now more than ever.”

He added, “Beyond our nation's borders lies a world riven by conflict and oftentimes wracked by chaos. Evil abounds across the globe. Old enemies have reared their ugly heads once more, and new ones have arisen, too.”

VIDEO | 00:40 | Vice President Tours West Point

The vice president said the forces of radical Islam seek to destroy the American way of life. “The barbarians known as ISIS are brutally killing anyone who stands in the way of their attempts to establish a global caliphate,” he said. “They will not stop until we stop them. And we will stop them.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is just one manifestation of this threat, Pence said. “The threats facing America have never been more numerous; it seems sometimes, [that the terrorists are] more sophisticated, more zealous in their adherence to failed ideas that belong in the ash-heap of history,” he said. “But make no mistake about it: President [Donald J.] Trump and this administration and this country will not rest until these enemies are destroyed and our nation is safe again.”

Rebuilding Democracy’s Arsenal

The vice president promised the young cadets to rebuild the arsenal of democracy to ensure “that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard [members] have the resources and the training they need to accomplish their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs.” 

VIDEO | 00:33 | Vice President Delivers West Point Address

The vice president said that he and President Trump “will always have your backs. You will have everything you need, and more, to defeat those who confront our nation and threaten our freedom, and to protect this country.”

Pence also said the administration will support the nation’s service members and not second-guess them as they serve.

“We will never call your courageous service or your sacrifice a failure,” he said.