ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- An estimated 30,000 people filled the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md., May 24 to witness the swearing in of the U.S. military's newest officers.
The Naval Academy Class of 2013 graduated 1,047 men and women, including 603 Navy ensigns and 223 Marine Corps second lieutenants.
The class also included three graduates commissioned as Air Force second lieutenants and 16 foreign exchange students. Eighty percent of the graduating class are men and 20 percent are women, 13 of whom will serve on submarines. Minorities make up 31 percent of the class, making it the most diverse graduating class in the history of the Naval Academy.
The ceremony recognized four honorary graduates, including the late Midshipman Austin Zalik, a member of the Class of 2013 who was killed in a vehicle accident last summer. The other honorary graduates were Naval Academy history Professor Mary DeCredico, Blue and Gold Officer James Carrier and local business owner Brendan Fisher.
President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address, calling on the graduates to maintain the values they've learned at the Naval Academy in their future roles as leaders in the military, community and business.
"Our nation needs them now more than ever," he said. "We need your honor, that inner compass that guides you not when the path is easy and obvious but when it's hard and uncertain."
Obama said the military is the most trusted institution in America.
"When others have shirked their responsibilities, our armed forces have met every mission we've given them," he said.
He urged the graduates to continue that tradition of excellence.
"You will lead this country," he said. "If we want to restore the trust the American people deserve to have in their institutions, all of us have to do our part."
Those in leadership must always strive to remain worthy of the public trust, he said.
Obama spoke about the challenges facing our military and how they have changed since the Class of 2013 entered the Naval Academy. He mentioned two 2006 Naval Academy graduates - Lt. Brad Snyder and Marine Capt. Matt Lampert - as examples of the resolve captured in the Class of 2013's motto "Surrender to Nothing."
Both graduates were wounded in IED attacks in Afghanistan. Snyder lost his sight but went on to become a gold-medalist swimmer in the 2012 Paralympics, one year after his injury. Lampert lost both legs but after a long recovery, deployed to Afghanistan a second time.
"We cannot know sitting here today where your service will carry you, but I do know this: As you say farewell to Bancroft Hall, as you make your way down Stribling Walk one last time, you're becoming the newest link in a storied chain," said Obama. "I'm absolutely confident that you will uphold the highest of standards and that your courage and honor and your commitment will see us through."
This is the Naval Academy's 163rd traditional graduation ceremony. Since it was established in 1845, the academy has graduated approximately 79,900 midshipmen including this year's graduates.
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