Biden to address Naval Academy, Delaware commencements over Memorial Day weekend

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – President Joe Biden will spend part of his Memorial Day weekend taking part in a springtime rite of passage: Graduation ceremonies.

Biden participated in the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduation and commissioning ceremonies on Friday. The ceremony for 1,100 graduates was held at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

He told graduates that they faced unique educational challenges during the global pandemic. It fell to the group to implement reforms and help rebuild morale within the student body, known as the Brigade, at the naval academy.

"You had a responsibility to right the ship and all of you stepped up, I'm told. You came together," Biden said.

"You learned the first and most important lesson of leadership: to always, always care for your people. To respect everyone's talent. To be inclusive. And to make sure the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps draws from the full strength and diversity of this nation," Biden told them.

Members of the US Coast Guard throw their hats in the air after US President Joe Biden spoke during the US Coast Guard Academy's 140th commencement exercises on May 19, 2021 in New London, Connecticut.
Members of the US Coast Guard throw their hats in the air after US President Joe Biden spoke during the US Coast Guard Academy's 140th commencement exercises on May 19, 2021 in New London, Connecticut.

On Saturday, Biden will deliver commencement remarks at the University of Delaware, his alma mater. The ceremony on the university’s Newark campus is open only to graduating students and their guests. Some 4,000 graduates are expected to attend, along with 16,000 family and friends.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden are both graduates of the University of Delaware and have maintained close ties to the school.

President Biden has spoken at four of the university’s other graduation ceremonies throughout his career, including in 2004, when he received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Last year, Biden delivered his first commencement address as president when he spoke to the U.S. Coast Guard’s graduating class in Connecticut. Biden challenged graduates to “go out and be the future” in a rapidly changing world.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks last week to the Coast Guard’s class of 2022.

In Annapolis on Friday, Biden accentuated his foreign policy agenda, offering a forceful condemnation of Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine. Biden said the Russian leader is "trying to wipe out the culture and identity of the Ukrainian people."

Biden impressed a responsibility upon graduates to advance American security interests, saying they must defend democracy and lead by the power of their example.

"Our nation is placing in you great trust and great faith," Biden said.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to address Naval Academy, Delaware commencements