Thoughts on Commissioning Day: A Day of Great Celebration and Somber Reflection

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to the USNA Class of 2022 and their families! What a momentous day!! Enjoy and celebrate together – you have earned it!

As I watched the streaming of the commissioning ceremony today, it occurred to me that it is every few years that the U.S. President presides over the military academies’ commencements and commissioning ceremonies. This year, President Biden was in the rotation for the U.S. Naval Academy. It is a great honor not only for the graduates, but especially for the President who gets to meet all of the Midshipmen who have volunteered to serve, uphold the Constitution, and protect and defend our nation.

It is a great day of celebration, for these newly minted Officers and their families. The Class of 2022 is one of the classes that was particularly affected by the pandemic and they have shown strength and resilience, overcome incredible challenges, and sacrificed much to get to this incredible day. This day of their Commencement and Commissioning marks a great accomplishment and the beginning of their careers in the Navy and the Marine Corps.

But it is also a day of somber reflection on the pledge and oath that these young men and women take today. They will leave the safety of Mother B to serve in the Fleet and Marine Corps and will go out to this unpredictable world. They leave their families, friends, and classmates to pursue their service – with excellence and selflessness, all the while living out the core values of the Naval Academy and the U.S. Navy: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

The threats of China and Russia, rising despotism, rogue states such as N Korea, Iran, and many others that are working toward obtaining and developing nuclear weapons, as well as environmental threats, make this a more challenging world in which to serve our nation. But our new Officers are ready – they have lived their commitment every day for the past four years; they have overcome and are resilient; they have learned from their failures and have humbly accepted their successes; they are creative and resourceful, and they have embodied the motto “Do Not Give Up The Ship”!

So on this very special day, it is appropriate – and necessary – that their Commander in Chief meets them, shakes their hand, and looks them in the eye. These are the men and women that the Commander in Chief will decide to send into harm’s way on behalf of our nation. These are some of the men and women that will be the point of the spear. So it is fitting that the President sees their faces so that they are not unknown entities but real people – flesh and blood Officers. This fact should weigh heavily as he considers their deployment, their missions, where he sends them, how to support them, and should serve as a reminder that it is the duty of every President to be their advocate – to fight to provide them with everything they need to be effective and successful – from the best and most modern equipment and training, to the latest technology, down to their food. It should indeed be a very heavy weight on every the Commander in Chief’s heart and mind.

I pray that from today forward, the faces of these young men and women are seared on the President’s mind and in his heart. As he sends them out in the defense of our nation, may he see the face of each one and remember this day when he shook their hand and looked them in the eye. Wherever he sends them, I pray that his decisions are not made lightly and that he remembers that as their Commander in Chief, these young men and women are precious for they are God’s children; they are precious to their families as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandchildren and friends; and they are precious to our nation as they serve and defend her. They should be equally as precious to their Commander in Chief as he sends these Officers into danger’s way.

Finally, to the Class 0f 2022 – BZ and God Speed!! You have overcome so much! Take time to celebrate this day and celebrate your great accomplishments.

I send this short prayer for you:
“May you have Fair Winds and Following Seas! May the good Lord watch over you and protect you; may He go before you preparing the way; and may He who created all things, hold you in the palm of His right hand and shone His face upon you as you go out and as you come in. May He Bless your steps, guide your path, and give you His peace that surpasses all understanding – always.”

We are all so proud of you! Be safe and GO NAVY!!

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