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Highlights from President Barack Obama's commencement speech at the Air Force Academy graduation

By: Gazette Staff
June 2, 2016 Updated: June 2, 2016 at 10:32 pm
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photo - President Barack Obama speaks during the 2016 Air Force Academy comencement ceremony Thursday, June 2, 2016, at Falcon Stadium on Air Force Academy.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
President Barack Obama speaks during the 2016 Air Force Academy comencement ceremony Thursday, June 2, 2016, at Falcon Stadium on Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

- Cadets, you can take enormous pride in all the hard work that has brought you to this day. I also ask you to give a big round of applause to all your moms and dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles who supported you and sacrificed for you so you could be here today.

- Now, I have to tell you, some days I spend more time with the Air Force than my own family. (Laughter.) Especially on Air Force One. (Applause.) You take good care of me. You are always on time. You never lose my luggage. (Laughter.) I don't have to take off my shoes before I get on. (Laughter.) So I'm really going to miss Air Force One - (laughter) - as well as the incredible Airmen that I've come to know.

- Cadets, here you were tested by fire - literally. When you went through Beast. As General Johnson noted, Waldo Canyon was actually on fire. During Recognition, you ran to the Rock in a blizzard. So you have more than earned your unofficial motto - "forged in fire and tempered in ice." (Applause.) Which is a great motto - although it does sound like something out of "Game of Thrones." (Laughter.)

- We've got to engage with the world. We can't pull back. Of course, leading wisely also means resisting the temptation to intervene militarily every time there's a problem or crisis in the world. History is littered with the ruins of empires and nations that overextended themselves, draining their power and influence. And so we have to chart a smarter path. As we saw in Vietnam and the Iraq War, oftentimes the greatest damage to American credibility comes when we overreach, when we don't think through the consequences of all of our actions. And so we have to learn from our history. And that also means we're doing right by our men and women in uniform.

-As powerful as our military is, we have to remember that many of the threats to our security cannot be solved by military force alone. We've got to draw on every tool, all elements of our national power.

- We live our values when our military, like America itself, truly welcomes the talents of all people. We're stronger when our gay and lesbian cadets and troops can serve their country - a country they love - without hiding who they love. (Applause.)

- And on this 40th anniversary of the first female cadets arriving at this Academy, we are stronger because General Johnson leads this institution; because Air Force General Lori Robinson leads Northern Command - our nation's first female combatant commander; and because all combat positions in our military are now open to women like you. We're stronger because of it. (Applause.)

- So there you have it - a few thoughts from your Commander-in-Chief on how to keep our military strong and our nation secure. We can never know what the future holds. But in the not-so-distant future, when I'm no longer president, I will sleep well at night because I know that men and women like you serve to keep us free.

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