Harris Addresses US Air Force Academy Graduates near 80th D-Day Anniversary

Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris
Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris accepts a gift from the class of 2024 at the United States Air Force Academy graduation at Falcon Stadium on Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Parker Seibold/The Gazette via AP)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Thursday to a sea of white-capped graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, looking back at U.S. airpower during D-Day and then forward to this generation's edge on technological innovation, such as artificial intelligence.

“Eighty years ago, over the beaches of Normandy, America won control of the skies, and we have kept it ever since,” said Harris to the 974 graduates, the class that arrived in 2020 to pandemic lockdowns, masks, COVID-19 testing, plexiglass partitions and virtual classes.

“Our nation is counting on you to preserve and defend that strength, including, I will add, through your ability to innovate,” said Harris.

Harris praised the current roles the Air Force and Space Force are playing across the world, including U.S. air patrols deterring Russian on NATO's eastern flank, the rivalry with China in the Indo-Pacific, weapons shipments to Ukraine and defending Israel from attacks by Iran.

“America’s national security and global security depend on our strength in the sky and in space,” said Harris to the arrayed cadets who will become second lieutenants in the Air Force or Space Force. “America's security relies on you, I know you will make your country proud.”

    Not a week before, President Joe Biden addressed U.S. Military Academy graduates, saying there's never been a time when the U.S. has asked it's military “to do so many different things in so many different places around the world, all at the same time.”

    Harris highlighted the graduates' technological literacy, having grown up with computers and the internet, and encouraged them to take up the torch of innovation, including around AI, as warfare evolves.

    The speeches, including Harris', were void of politics. Joking around, Harris said she waived any minor violations of the cadet disciplinary system, as the thousands of family and friends gathered in the sunbathed Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, chuckled.

    Harris reminded graduates that the oath they take is to the Constitution, not to a person or political party. “Even in a world of continuous change, this oath, well it remains constant,” said Harris.

    The class gifted Harris an honorary membership to the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2024.

    The commencement wrapped with graduates pitching their caps into the air as the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, roared past overhead.

    “There is no more noble work than one can do than to serve our nation in uniform,” Harris said. “Today you join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

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