Sunday, May 30

The Next Greatest Generation

This past weekend I spoke at the first commencement exercises for Rockbridge Academy. This young Classical and Christian school in Annapolis, Maryland has already established a remarkable legacy—the graduation ceremony was perhaps the best I have ever attended-and let me tell you, I have spoken at more than a few. The sound of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave is still ringing in my ears. I look forward to seeing the first fruits of this next generation of leaders.

I also had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing the commissioning of the 2004 United States Naval Academy graduates. One of my former students, Eric Scherrer, is now a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. I really was quite unprepared for the wave of emotions that washed over me during the three-hour-long ceremony. General Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reminded the new officers that we had best not “take it as a given that freedom and democracy will survive in this world.” Indeed, he said, “Our Nation has never faced a more significant test than the War on Terrorism. The stakes couldn’t be any higher. The stakes are the freedoms our predecessors fought so hard to defend for over two centuries. This is a long-term struggle between extremism on the one hand and freedom on the other. At its heart, it’s a test of wills.”

I looked out over the sea of fresh faces, crisp white and blue uniforms, and exultant families taking in what an enormous sacrifice many of them would soon be making—for me, for my family, and for my nation. Thus, I concurred with hearty “amens” as General Meyers concluded saying, “Our armed forces embody the absolute best of American values. That is the most powerful weapon that Marine carries with him on patrol. If someone in our armed forces steps out of line, we hold them accountable and responsible for their actions. We have a system that brings the truth to light, and an institution that constantly strives to improve itself. And you couldn’t ask for a more focused, dedicated, talented group of leaders, from the commanders to the ensigns and lieutenants to the seamen and privates and airmen. Graduates, you have the privilege of leading the nation’s next ‘Greatest Generation.’”

For some stunning photos of the occasion, as well as the full text of General Meyers’ remarks, visit the Naval Academy’s official web site.

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