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Biden Urges New Lieutenants to Stay True to Fixed Qualities

President Joe Biden told Air Force Academy graduates that they are trained for the future, now they must stay true to the qualities that got them to this point: "Resilience, creativity, endurance, commitment."  

The new Air Force and Space Force lieutenants will need these qualities "because the world you're graduating into is not only changing rapidly, the pace of change is accelerating, as well," the president said.

President Biden smiles as he stands behind a podium.
Presidential Keynote
President Joe Biden delivers the commencement speech during the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 1, 2023.
Photo By: Trevor Cokley, Air Force
VIRIN: 230601-F-XS730-1002Y

Biden pointed to the global challenges posed by the competition with China and the growing danger of Russia as two driving forces behind the need for these qualities. As if this isn't enough, there are areas of the globe with growing instability, food insecurity and natural disasters all of which are being made worse by the existential threat of climate change, he said.

"I know you're going to meet the moment to make sure that the future we're building is one that fundamentally aligns with our values, and protects America's interests."

Biden noted that the graduates already have experience with one of America's greatest assets: the unmatched network of allies, partners and friends. Students from around the world attend the Air Force Academy alongside their American colleagues.

Biden said he spent a lot of time in his first years in office re-establishing this network, especially with the NATO allies. "Those nations willingly stand beside us to face down threats and solve shared challenges," he said. "Our partnerships amplify our strength and make us more effective."

Adversaries understand what this system of alliances means, and they have spent time and money trying to break these ties. "We've seen it over and over again, especially the global support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defended their families and their homes against Russia's brutal assault," the president said. "Russian President [Vladimir] Putin was certain that NATO would crack, that they would not stand together." 

Instead, the United States is rallying the world to stand strong with Ukraine and defend the values that the American people hold so dear — freedom, sovereignty, democracy, simple dignity. "Working with a coalition of more than 50 nations, we've delivered historic security assistance that has enabled Ukraine to defend itself," he said.

There is also unity around the competition with China. "The United States does not seek conflict or confrontation with China," Biden said. "China and the United States should be able to work together where we can, to solve global challenges like climate. But we are prepared for vigorous competition. We will stand up for our interests, for our friends and for our values."

Air Force cadets salute as the president, wearing a suit and sunglasses, walks across a football field.
Presidential Arrival
President Joe Biden arrives at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 1, 2023.
Photo By: Rayna Grace, Air Force
VIRIN: 230601-F-YD678-1004Y

The United States works with partners in every part of the world to invest in partnerships and strengthen American security.

Other initiatives show promise including the Quad, which brings together Australia, India, Japan and United States to invest in Indo-Pacific security.

"NATO is more energized and more united than it has been in decades," he said. "It's now made stronger with the accession of our newest ally, Finland, and soon Sweden."

Nations around the world may not agree with the United States on every issue, "but they want to work with us," the president said. "They choose us, not because of threats or coercion, but because of the common interest we pursue together to make the world a better and safer place for everyone."

A cadet smiles and pumps a fist.
Graduation Grin
A member of the Class of 2023 celebrates during the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 1, 2023.
Photo By: Rayna Grace, Air Force
VIRIN: 230601-F-YD678-1016
An Air Force cadet shares a hug in a crowd.
Graduation Hug
Members of the Class of 2023 celebrate during the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 1, 2023.
Photo By: Justin R. Pacheco, Air Force
VIRIN: 230601-F-NU281-1010
This is an idea that represents the United States, the president said. "When people around the world see a United States gray tail, flying overhead, the Stars and Stripes on your shoulders, they know what that means: Freedom, opportunity, possibilities, hope," he said. "It's who we are, what we fight for. It's why we choose this path.

"Graduates, as you head out to graduate school or pilot training to serve as missileers or space operators, scientists or engineers, never forget the sacred oath you swear and the mission you serve is something far, far greater than any person or president. It's our Constitution. It's our country. And it's our enduring American value."


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