"You made your decision to serve knowing not only that America was at war, as did every man or woman who joined the military after Sept. 11, but that this war would be bloody and difficult, of indefinite length and uncertain outcome," Gates told cadets. "In doing so, you showed courage, commitment and patriotism of the highest order."
Almost all the graduates become second lieutenants in the U.S.
Army. Most are expected to serve eventually in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Gates, who became defense secretary during the Bush administration 2006, urged the new officers to show the courage to speak hard truths to superior officers and to show compassion for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress or other illnesses.
The class of 2009 includes 17 cadets from other countries, including the academy's first cadet from Afghanistan, who will attend graduate school in the United States.
On the Net:
West Point: http://www.usma.edu
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