President Joe Biden on Thursday urged U.S. Air Force Academy graduates to lead in a world filled with “confusing” challenges, saying they have a “noble” responsibility to live up to.
Speaking to more than 900 cadets on the sun–splashed field at Falcon Stadium in Colorado, Biden congratulated them on their service and reminded the newly minted officers of the weight of their responsibility.
“Now you also shoulder a great privilege and a mighty responsibility. Leadership, yeah leadership,” the President said. He applauded the cadets for making the “noble choice” to lead a life of service and said their airmen and guardians would need guidance and inspiration.
The president also noted the incoming generation of officers was the “most diverse graduating class in the academy‘s history“ and called on them to “root out the scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military.”
Before delivering his address, Biden participated in the presentation of diplomas, exchanging salutes and handshakes with each graduate as they were called to the stage and their loved ones cheered from the stands.
Near the end of the event, the 80–year–old president turned to walk across the stage and tripped. He was helped up by an Air Force officer as well as two members of his U.S. Secret Service detail. Onlookers, including some members of the official delegation on stage, looked over in concern before Biden returned to his seat.
“He’s fine,” tweeted Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director. “There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands.”
Biden also discussed a variety of global threats and challenges, from Russia‘s aggression in Ukraine and America‘s rivalry with China to the threat of climate change and the growing use of artificial intelligence.
“Your airmen and guardians are going to look to you for guidance and inspiration because the world is going to get more confusing,” he said. “Never forget the sacred oath you swear, and the mission you serve is something far, far greater than any person or president,” he reminded them.
The ceremony was capped by an aerial salute to the graduates by the world–renowned U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, flying over Falcon Stadium.
The academy graduates now become second lieutenants in either the Air Force or Space Force. They have the “great privilege” of leading in a world that will only get more confusing in the years to come, but they are ready to take on the task.
BREAKING: "Joe Biden is our Boris Yeltsin"pic.twitter.com/njq6Wr1BNu
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 1, 2023