You usually don’t expect commencement speakers to stick around long after the speech is over, especially not when the speaker is the president.
However, when the venue is the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, things are a bit different. And, when the president is Donald Trump, things are a lot different.
In fact, he not only stuck around to shake hands with each and every grad following his commence address on Friday, he actually asked them whether he could do it.
Well, with a bit of a sly smile attached, one must note.
Trump: "I could make this commencement address … and immediately leave and wave goodbye … Or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. What should I do? What should I do? I'll stay, I'll stay!" pic.twitter.com/qsJ220pnHW
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 25, 2018
“I was given an option. I could make this commencement address, which is a great honor for me, and immediately leave and wave goodbye,” Trump asked the audience. “Or I could stay and shake hands with just the top 100. Or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. What should I do? What should I do?”
Well, stay, of course. And stay he did.
Pres. Trump shook the hands of graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for nearly 90 minutes this afternoon. Here’s every single one in 41 seconds. https://t.co/tnCnBSEGXL pic.twitter.com/3hVGNQSEOh
— ABC News (@ABC) May 25, 2018
During the speech itself, the president gave a rousing tribute both to the graduates themselves and to the American spirit.
“Four years ago, each of you made the most important decision of your lives,” the president told the graduates. “You chose the path of hard work, sweat, and sacrifice. You chose the life of honor, courage, and commitment. You chose to serve the nation and defend our great American flag. You chose the Navy, blue and gold, from the first moments of induction day.”
He also took a bold stand for the country the men and women defending it were taking a stand for.
“We are not going to apologize for America,” Trump said. “We are going to stand up for America. No more apologies. We are going to stand up for our citizens. We are going to stand up for our values. And we are going to stand up for our men and women in uniform.”
“Because we know that a nation must have pride in its history to have confidence in its future,” he continued. “We are the nation that built the highways, the railroads, the Empire State Building in one year, the Golden Gate Bridge, and we are the nation that built the Panama Canal.
“We trekked the mountains, explored the oceans, and settled the vast frontier. We won two world wars, defeated communism and fascism, and put a man on the face of the moon. We cured disease, pioneered science, and produced timeless works of art that inspire the human soul. And on distant islands, far-away battlefields, above the skies and beneath the sea, the entire world has borne witness to the unstoppable strength, skill, and courage of the United States Navy and the American Marines.”
For those of you interested in the full remarks, here they are:
There are two takeaways from the president’s speech to the graduates at the Naval Academy. The first is that he was willing to take a stand for America and those who defend it rhetorically through his remarks. Anyone could do that, however.
Then, he backed it up with a gesture that went viral in a major way, and you can see why. Our hats are off to Trump for doing it. However, the real heroes on this day are the ones whose hands were being shaken.
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