United States Vice President Kamala Harris is now the first woman to deliver a commencement speech at West Point. Speaking to the graduating cadets at the American military academy in West Point, New York, on Saturday, Harris made it known to them that they are graduating “into an increasingly unsettled world where long-standing principles are at risk”, and highlighted the threats of Russian and Chinese aggression while giving her address.
“Cadets, global security and global prosperity depend on the leadership of the United States of America. And a strong America remains indispensable to the world. Our democratic ideals of freedom and liberty inspire billions, she said. “And our military is the strongest in the world. Our military is a force that underwrites global stability and our national security. And it is this pillar of our strength where you, cadets, have dedicated yourself to lead,” the vice president added.
For two decades in public life, Harris has achieved a lot of firsts: the first Black woman to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, the first woman to be California’s attorney general, first Indian American senator, and now she is working by Joe Biden’s side. Being the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office of vice president, Harris did not forget to mention diversity in her address to the over 900 graduating cadets.
“To the class of 2023 and to all the cadets here today. You stand on the broad shoulders of generations of Americans who have worn the uniform, including many barrier breakers and trailblazers,” she said. “In fact, this year, you celebrate the 75th anniversary of the integration of women in the military, as well as the desegregation of our military.”
West Point, which is 221 years old, did not admit women until 1976 and had its first women graduates four years later, according to AP. Currently, about one-quarter of the student body are women with only a few Black women graduating each year, the news platform added.
Before Harris’ election as female vice president, commencement speakers at military academies in the U.S. were usually the president, vice president or high-ranking military official and they were all men.