Authors: Tara Parsell
(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- Vice President Joe Biden told a graduating class of army cadets on Saturday that their entrance into the service had come at time of rapid change for the nation’s military.
Delivering the commencement address to roughly a thousand students of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the vice president said the 9/11 generation of service members had taken on “responsibilities far beyond the base or the battlefield.”
“Young men and women steeped in military doctrine have had to master the intricacies of tribal politics, deal with issues ranging from electricity to unemployment, currency exchange to taxation,” he said, “You are a remarkable, remarkable, remarkable group.”
Biden thanked the newly-commissioned second lieutenants and their families for serving their country “in an era where the sacrifice of our military had never been greater.”
Calling the fight against terrorism “perhaps the most daunting in this nation’s history,” Biden affirmed the U.S. planned to maintain a substantial presence in the Middle East for the indefinite future. But, he said, the end of the Iraq war and the scheduled 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan would allow the country to prepare for new endeavors.
“Winding down these long wars will enable us to replace and rebalance our foreign policy, take on the full range of challenges that will shape the 21st century,” he said.
Biden acknowledged two former graduates of the war college, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno for formulating the strategies to resolving the conflicts.
This was Biden’s first commencement address to the West Point institution. After his remarks, the 2012 class presented him with a gleaming ceremonial saber; he said he would “display it proudly.” Beau Biden, a Major in the Delaware National Guard, watched his father and the ceremonies from the audience.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio Online