Standing on a stage draped in blue, beneath a large bouquet of yellow ribbons, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf today addressed the 141st graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy.
"You have no idea what a thrill it is for me to be here," Schwarzkopf, one of the heroes of Operation Desert Storm, told the 936 graduates and some 20,000 guests. "You have no idea what a thrill it is to be invited."
Schwarzkopf received a standing ovation from the midshipmen and the crowd in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
However, sources said police arrested a man who allegedly had made a threat toward Schwarzkopf. No other details were available.
Puzzled as to what an Army general -- Schwarzkopf was the first Army officer invited to speak at the Navy graduation -- could possibly say to Navy graduates, he asked his wife, Brenda. She asked him what he remembered about his graduation speaker. "I said I vaguely remembered the speaker and I remembered nothing about the speech but I remember that he spoke for 45 minutes," he said.
His wife then said it was obvious what her husband should speak about -- 15 minutes.
Despite the rumor, Schwarzkopf said he was not speaking at the graduation because he lost, or won, a bet at an Army-Navy game. "I think that I was invited to speak because I was lucky enough to lead the largest and finest multi-service operation in victory," he said.
He spoke about the Navy's role in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm last winter. He said the Navy was the first to respond to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and probably detered the Iraqis from marching into Saudi Arabia.
He concluded by saying, "If there's only one thing you take from this talk, remember great American leaders are motivated not by money, not by medals, but love of patriotism, love of country.
"I'm proud of you, your country's proud of you, anchors aweigh and Semper Fi."
Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill, the superintendent of the Naval Academy, told the graduates that they enter military service at a time when the nation "once again faces a period of violent peace." He said they must be ready to serve at a moment's notice, as did military personnel in Operation Desert Storm.
Hill said one unfortunate outgrowth of Operation Desert Storm "is a renewal of the age-old argument that we need warriors, not leaders."
The academy's graduating class included 859 men and 77 women. After getting their diplomas, 830 midshipmen were commissioned as ensigns in the Navy. Six were commissioned as Air Force second lieutenants and 94 entered the Marine Corps as second lieutenants.
The other six graduates were foreign citizens who will return to the military forces in their countries.
Today's ceremony concluded with the traditional hat toss by the graduates and topped a week of ceremony at the academy.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.