On Wednesday, President Joe Biden
season with a 30-minute speech to the Class of 2021 at the United States Coast Guard
Academy in New London
In a wide-ranging speech, the president assessed the challenges and threats that the next generation of leaders will face, while also praising the cadets' fortitude in the face of pandemic
This year, the same restrictions forced many would-be spectators to watch the game online rather than in person, thinning out what would have otherwise been a packed set of bleachers.
That didn't stop the president from chastising the cadets for their apparent lack of energy
, wondering aloud early on if the sun had sapped their zeal after a wisecrack about the Navy failed to elicit a hearty response.
“You are a really dull class,” Biden remarked. “Come on, man. Is the sun getting to you? I would think you would have an opportunity to clap when I said that about the Navy.”
"You're a really dull class. Come on, man. Is the sun getting to ya?" says Biden after making a wisecrack about the Navy at the Coast Guard Academy. pic.twitter.com/9NIUa6yjju— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) May 19, 2021
As he reflected on the challenges they will face in a rapidly changing world, the president praised the cadets for being “fierce patriots as well as young people
of incredible courage and dedication.”
is causing more frequent and stronger storms, China
and Russia are undermining international maritime norms for their own gain, and the Arctic is melting, which is becoming increasingly important and in need of protection.
He struck an upbeat tone as he assessed the composition of the Class of 2021 and the power of diversity
in confronting those challenges.
Biden noted that women make up more than a third of the class, and another third are underrepresented minorities, both of which are growing year after year.
“You are the most progressive, best educated, least prejudiced, and most open generation in American history
,” he said, adding, “We desperately need you. You are ready. It is time to get started.”
“In your careers, you will face challenges you cannot predict,” he added near the end, “you will be asked to lead in new ways and navigate new paths, but when the storms gather or the seas of life become rough, remember the Coast Guard’s marching song to sing on land and sea, through surf and storm and howling gale, high shall your purpose be.”