Bush to give commissioning address to graduating midshipmen next month

April 18, 2001|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

President Bush will give the commissioning address to the Class of 2001 graduating midshipmen at the Naval Academy on May 25, White House officials said yesterday.

"It's an honor to host the president for graduation," said academy spokesman Bill Spann. "What better way for the Class of 2001 to start a military career than to hear from their commander in chief?"

The decision follows a decades-long tradition in which the president speaks at one of the five military academies each year. The others are the U.S. Military Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard academies.

Bush will address the graduates at the University of Notre Dame on May 20.

The Naval Academy ceremonies, which are open to the 1,000 graduates, their families and invited guests, include a flyover by the Blue Angels and the traditional white hat toss.

The last time a president visited the academy was in 1998, when Bill Clinton announced plans to stockpile vaccines against deadly biological weapons. He also gave the address in 1994, focusing his speech on the crisis in Bosnia.

Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, spoke to the graduates in 1987 when he was the vice president and defended President Ronald Reagan's handling of relations with the Soviet Union.

"We shouldn't kid ourselves into thinking the next Soviet revolution is just around the corner," he told the graduates. "It's not. The Communist Party, the KGB and the Soviet army will see to that."

The Communist Party fell from power two years later.

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