Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address at the United States Coast Guard Academy's commencement ceremony in New London on Wednesday.
Harris commended all of the cadets for their hard work and applauded them for what they have accomplished. She said the Cadets are doing the critical work to protect our country, advance our interests and shape the trajectory of world affairs.
"The world you graduate into is unsettled. It is a world where long-established principles now rest on shaky ground. Where the rule of law is strained. Where rules and norms are under question," Harris said in part.
Harris also mentioned the challenges the world is facing including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, criminal gangs and traffickers, fuel corruption and violence, and hate, including during the shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store recently.
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"When I think about the security of the United States and the world, I am clear-eyed: One of our defining missions is to strengthen the international rules-based order. To defend it. To promote it. And to build on it," she said in part.
She encouraged the cadets to learn from the past and to not be limited by it.
"We know you are ready, ready to serve and your country is so proud of you," Harris added.
Kaitlyn Dow, one of 12 graduating cadets from Connecticut, said she feels ready for the challenge.
“I agree that we are definitely going into some rocky territory, but I think it’s going to make us better officers in the future,” said Dow, who will be going to coast guard cutter Seneca in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Jaden Lewis, a graduate from Maryland, said it was nice to hear Harris say that their leadership is needed.
“I am really excited to fulfill the expectations the Vice President put on us and I think we are capable as a class,” Lewis said.
The graduates tossed their hats in the air as a fly over passed above, officially marking their transition from cadets to officers in the United States Coast Guard.
“It was the best feeling ever. It made the four years definitely worth it,” Dow said.
"As you can imagine, security is tight for the vice president," said External Affairs Officer for the USCGA Commander Krystyn Pecora.
Members of the public are allowed to gather at several locations, including McKinley Park and the grass parcel located across the street from the main gate of the USCGA. No one will be allowed to gather beyond the main gate.
Riverside Park is closed to the public, according to police.
New London Police released parking restrictions. No parking will be allowed on:
- River Ridge Road
- Deshon Street
- Nameaug Avenue
- Oneco Avenue
- Farnsworth Street
- Winchester Road
- Uncas Avenue
The 2022 graduating class is the largest class in the academy's history -- 252 cadets will walk across the stage Wednesday and 243 will be commissioned as officers in the USCG.
The nine other graduating cadets are international cadets who will be commissioning into their own services within their own countries.
"I am excited just to walk across the stage, get the diploma, get the commission and just start the future in the Coast Guard," said Kyle Hunihan, one of 12 graduating cadets from Connecticut.
The commencement ceremony is a culmination of 200 weeks of training for the cadets.
"This is not a normal college experience. You get the academic side and then you get the military training side," Pecora said. "It is not just the end of an academic term, but it is the beginning of the rest of their lives in the coast guard."