Harris, 1st woman to give commencement speech at West Point, welcomes cadets to ‘unsettled world’


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 noted they we’re 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. She referred to the global pandemic that took millions of lives and the fraught shifts in global politics in Europe and in Asia.

“It is clear you graduate into an increasingly unsettled world where long-standing principles are at risk,” she said.

As the U.S. ended two decades of war in Afghanistan, the longest in the country’s history, 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.

Harris made no mention in her address about the ongoing skirmishing in Washington, where the White House and congressional Republicans try to avert a debt crisis.

In her speech, Harris touched on the importance of having institutions reflect the diversity of the broader United States, 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 quarter of the student body are women. Only a few dozen graduates each year are Black women, like Harris, though the number has ticked up in recent years. The academy didn’t admit women until 1976 and had its first female graduates in 1980.



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