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  4. Secretary Mayorkas Remarks at the 2024 United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement

Secretary Mayorkas Remarks at the 2024 United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement

Release Date: May 23, 2024

Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks at the 2024 United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in New London, CT.

Good morning.

Early on, in thinking about what your experience would be like at the Coast Guard Academy, I bet you didn't expect to have a Swab Summer that was so very different than the one of every cadet class before you. I bet you didn't expect to live your Fourth Class a year in the throes of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

One never really knows what tomorrow is going to bring, but the measure of character, the measure of an officer in the United States Coast Guard, has never been the capacity to predict the future. It is the poise of always being ready for it – ready for what might come, and the strength to endure, adapt as needed, and rise to the occasion. Semper Paratus is a very encompassing charge for each of you.

Yes, you didn't gather together in one large group when you first arrived here, and so much of your Swab Summer and Fourth Class year were far different than what you expected. So, you took the oath in eight separate platoons; pivoted in the many different ways the circumstances required; and made it through an historic, most challenging time – and here you now are.

Perhaps you are the most tested and resilient of the 142 classes that came before you.

Around this time, college graduates are participating in commencement ceremonies across the country. They all, like you, do not know what tomorrow is going to bring. But this we do know: For the vast majority of them, their tomorrow will be nothing like yours.

They will not be holding a helicopter stead while their crew swings over the ocean to rescue people in distress; addressing the cries for relief from migrants on board a cutter in the Atlantic; deciding the safe passage of ships carrying hundreds of millions of dollars in goods; conducting complex studies aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic; starting Flight School in preparation for journeys across the world; responding to environmental disasters in our nation's waterways; interdicting drug smugglers along the coast;, deploying to conflict zones to protect America’s national interests at home and abroad; and so much more.

At the conclusion of their commencement ceremonies, they will not be officers of the United States Coast Guard. You will be.

You have proven yourself ready for what tomorrow might bring, and to shoulder the tremendous responsibilities that you will soon have. You are ready to not only accomplish the awesome missions of your service, but also to always be there for one another and to represent with honor the institution that you will now help lead.

Being there for one another – in different ways than ever before, you will learn what it means to give of oneself for the benefit of another, sometimes even at great peril. You will live the true meaning of sacrifice, camaraderie, and leadership.

This past November, two Coast Guard members were badly injured when their helicopter crashed. One was a flight mechanic, the other a rescue swimmer. At the Seattle Tier 1 hospital, where urgent care was being administered, the rescue swimmer somehow, somehow, moved himself to be and remain by his more seriously injured colleague’s side.

The Coast Guard is not just an organization. It is a family.

Representing with honor the institution you will now help lead: what you do, and how you do it, on-duty and off-, will reflect on others and the institution – the family – itself.

You carry forward a rich history, proud traditions, and the nobility that fills the Coast Guard uniform of service to country. Bring honor to it in everything you do.

In a few minutes, every single one of you is going to throw your combo cover high into the air. Some of you have scored a higher class ranking than others – maybe with better grades, more touchdowns, faster sprints, or stronger military bearing. But no matter. When your covers hit the ground, all of you will be officers.

Moving forward, the test will be tests of character; of being there for one another; and of bringing honor to us all.

As your combo cover flies upward and then descends, think of those who helped make this extraordinary journey possible for you: your family, loved ones, friends, faculty, and the new officers beside you. Think of them with pride and gratitude, as they do of you, especially on this special occasion today.

I will digress now from my prepared remarks and share a thought with you – a gift.

I don't remember a single thing anyone said at my college graduation.

I also don't remember a single thing that anyone said at my law school graduation.

In recognition of, in honor – not of all of you – but in recognition and in honor of the individual, the one amongst you who is ranked seventh from the bottom of this class, who occupies the seat that I once did, I give you a gift of one administrative leave day that you can use this year or next.

It’s all about the future. Congratulations for all that you have achieved. Semper Paratus, and Go Bears.

Last Updated: 05/23/2024
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