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Kamala Harris first woman to deliver commencement speech at West Point

That was the first time a woman has spoken at West Point's graduation in its 221-year history.

By Margaret MinnicksPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Vice President Kamala Harris at West Point Graduation/YouTube Screenshot

Vice President Kamala Harris did something on Saturday, May 27, 2023, that no other woman had ever done before. She became the first woman to deliver a commencement address to the graduating class at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. It had never been done before in the military academy's 221-year history.

Vice President Kamala Harris' Speech

In the history-making keynote speech given at Michie Stadium, Harris discussed themes of global security and prosperity, arguing that America’s democratic ideals “inspire billions.” She reminded the graduates that they are in “an increasingly unsettled world where long-standing principles are at risk.”

The vice president told the graduates:

“In the face of all these challenges, America plays a singular role of leadership. Cadets, global security and global prosperity depend on the leadership of the United States of America. And a strong America remains indispensable to the world.”

Harris did not fail to mention current events going on in the world, such as Russian aggression in Ukraine and China for “modernizing its military and threatening both the freedom of the seas and rules of international commerce.”

Harris gave a personal directive to the Class of 2023:

“To the Class of 2023: You join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen,” Harris said Saturday. And in years to come, I promise you, you will be tried, and you will be tested.”

“And I am so very confident that you will rise to each occasion. Whatever comes your way. You are ready. And you are ready because you are true leaders of character.”

Encouragement to the Class of 2023

Harris gave West Point's class of 2023 some personal things to think about after they receive their diplomas and embarked on their military careers.

The vice president assured the cadets that they are graduating from the pre-eminent leadership institution in the nation. She reminded them that they are ready to lead the soldiers under them who will look up to them for guidance. Harris assured them that they are ready to lead.

Upon graduation, the cadets will be commissioned as Army second lieutenants.

Harris acknowledged graduates Aaron Hall and Claire Dworsky, whom she nominated for admission to West Point while she was a California senator. She was delighted to see those two people graduating after they had accomplished all she knew they would.

Harris gave all the graduates a great send-off with encouraging words.

"Our military is the strongest in the world. Our military is a force that underwrites global stability and our national security. And it is this pillar of our strength where you, cadets, have dedicated yourself to lead."

Not the First Time

This was not the first time Vice President Kamala Harris has been the keynote speaker at a military graduation. She also made history in 2021 when she was the first woman to give a commencement address at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2022, she spoke at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Perhaps her niche is to speak at military graduations. Maybe officials approve of her style and the information she delivers. Otherwise, she would not continue to get assignments to speak at military graduations.

Traditionally, vice presidents are invited to deliver the commencement speech to graduating classes at U.S. military academies. As vice president, Joe Biden delivered the commencement address to West Point's graduating class in 2016.

Surely, the two speeches were miles apart because of how life has changed between 2016 and 2023. Harris spoke about some of those changes in her speech.

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About the Creator

Margaret Minnicks

Margaret Minnicks shares articles with readers all over the world. Topics include celebrities, royal family, movies, television, foods, drinks, health issues, and other interesting things. Thanks in advance for TIPS that are sent my way.

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Comments (1)

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTERabout a year ago

    VP Harris' contribution is huge! Thank you for reporting it.

Margaret MinnicksWritten by Margaret Minnicks

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