President Donald Trump congratulated the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2018 as they were commissioned Friday as Navy ensigns and Marine Corps second lieutenants.
“Together you are the tip of the spear, the edge of the blade, the front of the shield protecting and defending our nation,” Trump said to the graduating class.
During the Friday ceremony, 784 midshipmen stood and were commissioned as Naval officers, 236 midshipmen stood and were commissioned as Marine Corps officers, and 11 international students graduated and will return to serve their nations.
Nearly four years ago, when the class of 2018 was inducted on July 1, 2014,303 of the 1,191 new midshipmen were women, the largest number of women inducted to a Naval Academy class at that point.
Addressing the class, in a speech laden with congratulations to for their academic and athletic achievements – including beating the Army in 19 sporting events this past year – Trump encouraged the soon-to-be commissioned officers to continue the culture of winning.
“You crave adventure. You chase discovery. And you never flinch in the eye of a raging storm,” Trump said.
In terms of policy, Trump discussed the recently approved Fiscal Year 2018 Department of Defense budget, securing $700 billion to support the military, which ended “the disastrous defense sequester.”
With a FY 2019 defense bill approved this week by the House of Representatives and being worked on by the Senate, Trump added that next year will continue adding money for defense spending for such items as new ships, new equipment and pay raises for military personnel.
“We are recommitting to that fundamental truth, we are a maritime nation,” Trump said. “And being a maritime nation, we’re surrounded by sea, we must always dominate that sea.”
Bulking up the nation’s maritime capability was also at the heart of Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s address to the class. Modly, a 1983 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former helicopter pilot, likened the Navy the 2018 class enters to the one he was commissioned into 35 years ago today.
Defense spending was increasing, especially spending on the Navy, after years of deficient budgets, Modly said.
“The Soviet Union had no choice but to retreat and eventually collapse into the annals of its own inglorious past,” Modly said.
Today’s military is charged with protecting U.S. interests around the globe, including spreading “the guiding lights of individual liberty and human dignity,” Modly said.
“Weakness in pursuit of such lofty aspirations invites aggression, and it always will,” the undersecretary added.
Before offering a final congratulations, Modly offered a bit of advice, honed during his years in the Navy and then in the business world at Price Waterhouse Cooper as the managing director of the national security practice and the Global Government Defense Network leader.
“Don’t ever worry about being loved for what you do; rather, love the country you’re asked to defend. Love the Constitution you’re about to pledge your lives to protect and defend. And most importantly, love the people you have been privileged to lead.
“Make sure they eat before you do. Care about their families as much as you do your own. Be invested in their successes more than your own accomplishments, and nurture their careers more than you pursue your own individual advancement. Value their lives to the point you will always consider their safety and security in every decision you make. And you will do this best by making sure they know how to fight and how to win,” Modly said.