President Joe Biden visited the US Air Force Academy and thanked graduates for their choice of service on Thursday. The visit was punctuated by a stumble onstage after he handed out diplomas, though he was soon back on his feet with the help of an officer and members of his Secret Service detail.
“Graduates, you made a noble choice to lead a life of service,” Mr. Biden told the more than 900 cadets. “Now you also shoulder a great privilege and a mighty responsibility. Leadership, yeah leadership. In the years ahead, your airmen and guardians are going to look to you for guidance and inspiration because the world is going to get more confusing.”
The President also called on the diverse class to focus on rooting out sexual assault and harassment in the military. He then touched on global conflict, mentioning the Russia/Ukraine tensions, China rivalry, and the growing use of Artificial Intelligence.
“Never forget the sacred oath you swear, and the mission you serve is something far, far greater than any person or president,” he said. “It‘s our Constitution, it‘s our country and it‘s our enduring American values.”
After speaking, Mr. Biden took part in the diploma presentations where he exchanged salutes and handshakes with each graduate and their loved ones cheered from the stands.
The ceremony was concluded with an aerial salute performed by The Thunderbirds which the President had met with the day prior at Peterson Space Force Base.
The President’s stumble occurred toward the end of the ceremony as he began to walk across the stage, tripping on what press secretary Ben LaBolt said was a sandbag placed on stage while Mr. Biden was shaking hands. Although onlookers were worried, Mr. LaBolt tweeted that the President was fine.
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For Mr. Biden, his visit to the Air Force Academy marked his fifth stop in Colorado this week. Earlier in the week, he signed an executive order involving oil and gas drilling and visited the United States– Mexico border. On Friday, the President is set to tour a football stadium in Denver.