On Wednesday May 21, Cadet Memorial Field is staged and ready to begin the US Coast Guard Academy’s 133rd commencement exercises.
What a picture-perfect scene of a breathtaking celebration to honor such an elite group of young men and women. The sun shining through the multiple shades of blue in the sky only enhanced the white uniforms of the cadets soon to graduate and be commissioned into the US Coast Guard.
The time is here, there is a vigilance of silence, the chapel bells are chiming, the sound of a 21 gun salute brings a note of honor and the Coast Guard Band captures our hearts with the sound of Pomp and Circumstance as the Cadets march in.
Distinguished Graduate, Stephanie Jocis of Palos Verdes, California spoke of how she related her four years at the Academy to the likes of entering a revolving door. Stephanie spoke about each turn of the door as being another challenging year. At times she felt isolated. With last year’s final turn, she was able to exit with the best version of herself. She concluded that, “Camaraderie of the Academy changes everyone from I to We in the service of their nation.”
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department Of Homeland Security delivered the keynote address to the 214 graduates. Secretary Johnson stated that, “Graduation represents an accumulation of four years of hard work, but it is not an end, it is not your destination, it is your next beginning.” He gave reference to Stephanie Jocis, “How at times she felt isolated” and said, “Yes, it’s been hard, and we make it hard for a reason, our nation, our department and our Coast Guard requires the best and the strongest.” He asked the cadets to live by their moral and ethic compass, “Your fellow Americans will expect a lot from you. Set the example, behave as if the whole world is watching.”
Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., Commandant of the US Coast Guard, who will be retiring at the end of the month, administered the oath of office to the cadets. As the Admiral stood before the cadets for the last time, he asked them, “Turn around and say thank you!”
Class president Bradley Pienta thanked the Admiral and voiced, “We promise to take all that we have learned from you into the fleet.”