By Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau –
Vice President Joe Biden praised the 972 Army cadets who graduated from West Point on Saturday for their decision to join the military, “knowing full well that you were likely to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Your generation, the 9/11generation, is more than worthy of the proud legacy that you will inherit today,” Biden said in his commencement address to the newly commissioned second lieutenants.
“Most of you were in elementary school on Sept. 11, 2001, when your nation was attacked; old enough to remember, perhaps, but young enough that that tragic day need not have shaped your lives,” he said. “But for so many of you, it did just that.”
The ending of the Iraq war and the drawdown in Afghanistan will allow the country to turn its attention to other regions of the world, he said.
“When President Obama and I came to office, we were convinced that our nation had reached a strategic turning point, requiring us to rebalance our foreign policy,” Biden said.
“We are now able to begin to focus our attention and resources on other regions and other challenges that will be incredibly critical to our nation’s future in the 21st century.”
And he touted the killing last year of Osama bin Laden as “a mission that will go down in the annals of intelligence and special operations.”
“Those warriors sent a message to the world that if you harm America, we will follow you to the end of the Earth,” he said.