By U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsMay 31, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 31, 2008) - In a stadium where severe weather threatened, 972 cadets graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Saturday. They represent about 79 percent of the cadets who entered West Point almost four years ago.
This was West Point's 210th graduating class and the 29th class to graduate women. (No classes graduated in 1810 or 1816 and there were two graduating classes in 1861, 1917, 1918, 1922 and 1943.)
The class included 148 women, 57 African Americans, 69 Asian/Pacific Islanders, 56 Hispanics and 12 Native Americans. There are 138 members who also attended the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School, Fort Monmouth, N.J. -- 114 men and 24 women.
There are 14 foreign cadets, who represent Albania, Cameroon, Columbia, El Salvador, Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Philippines (2), Romania (2), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Tunisia and will return to those nations for service.
The Class of 2008, who's class motto is "No Mission Too Great," has 63 members who are sons or daughters of U.S. Military Academy graduates. Three of these cadets have parents who are both graduates.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, the 2008 commencement speaker, said to the about-to-be-commissioned young men and women and their Families and friends, "What a profound honor it is to share this occasion with you ..." and thanked everyone for their service and sacrifice.
He first addressed the parents and Families, telling them, "Your sons and daughters are among the nation's very best. ... They chose the path of duty, honor and country. ... They are men and women of character -- they came to us like that."
To the cadets Geren said, "You will extend the Long Gray Line another generation into our nation's future."
He then quoted extensively from the graduation speech President John Kennedy made to the West Point Class of 1962, saying he could say it no better.
He also told them, quoting Gen. Creighton Abrams, Class of 1936, "People aren't in the Army, people are the Army." He talked about the all-volunteer Army, which includes not only the Soldiers, but their Families, and told the future officers, "As Army leaders, you must take care of Army Families. ... You are a leader and the well-being of Soldiers will be in your hands."
In closing he told the class to "take pride in your record here at West Point. Take great heart in your bright future. ... Our nation needs you. ..."
Prior to being dismissed and the traditional hat toss, 956 of the graduates were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Two others were commissioned in the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy, respectively, and the 14 foreign cadets will return to their respective countries to serve.