Harris Has a First at West Point

Vice president welcomes graduates to 'unsettled world'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2023 12:55 PM CDT
Harris Has a First at West Point
Cadet Melic Belong presents Vice President Kamala Harris with a gift during the graduation ceremony of the US Military Academy's Class of 2023 at Michie Stadium on Saturday in West Point, N.Y.   (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to deliver a commencement speech at West Point, lauded graduating cadets Saturday for their noble sacrifice in serving their country, but cautioned that they were entering an "unsettled world" because of Russian aggression and the rising threats from China. "The world has drastically changed," Harris told the roughly 950 graduating cadets in her first visit to the academy. She referred to the global pandemic that took millions of lives and the fraught shifts in global politics in Europe and in Asia, the AP reports. "It is clear you graduate into an increasingly unsettled world where long-standing principles are at risk," Harris said.

The vice president again condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the first major ground war in Europe since World War II. She also warned cadets to be wary of China, as it rapidly modernizes its military and muscles for control of parts of the high seas, ostensibly referring to the brewing disputes over the South China Sea. In her speech, Harris touched on the importance of having institutions reflect the diversity of the broader US, making the comment at an institution that has made slow progress diversifying its ranks in the four decades since the first class of female cadets graduated. Today, about one-fourth of the student body are women. Only a few dozen graduates each year are Black women, though the number has ticked up in recent years. The academy didn't admit women until 1976, graduating its first female cadets in 1980.

(Read more Kamala Harris stories.)

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