Trump addresses a socially distanced West Point graduation

14 Juin, 2020, 09:40 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • President Donald Trump applauds as Army helicopters fly over during the Class of 2020 at a commencement ceremony on the parade field at the United States Military Academy in West Point N.Y

Speaking to new graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point on Saturday, Trump praised the "righteous glory of the American warrior" but largely side-stepped the recent controversies of racial unrest and the military's role in putting down the nationwide protests that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minnesota after a white officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Further strain has been placed on what would normally be one of the showpiece events of USA public life by Trump's pronouncements and actions in regard to widespread civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

The letter, published this week on Medium, also alluded to the problems Mr Esper and Gen Milley encountered at the White House after Mr Floyd's death.

"It was on this soil that American patriots held the most vital fortress in our war for independence", Trump said.

"The army was at the forefront of ending the bad injustice of segregation", he said, and it was West Point graduates who led the fight in the Civil War to "end the evil of slavery". "This is the legacy that each of you inherits", he said.

Trump used the occasion to thank the U.S. military in the successful fight against the novel coronavirus. "You must never forget it".

Trump announced in April that he would deliver the commencement address at West Point.

Some cadets said they welcomed the chance to see their classmates again. Some are now seeking the removal of Bragg's name from North Carolina's Fort Bragg.

President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to over 1,110 cadets in the Class of 2020 at a commencement ceremony on the parade field, at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Saturday, June 13, 2020.

"We are ending the era of endless wars", Trump said, arguing that it's not the job of U.S. forces "to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have not even heard of".

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The episode, in which Mr. Trump was pressing the military to deploy active-duty troops to contain demonstrations on American streets, thrust the Pentagon into a crisis, between holding the line on the military's core value to stay apolitical and responding to the commander in chief, Mr. Trump, who was demanding the military be made available to restore law and order.

Mr Trump said in prepared remarks to the graduates at the academy in NY state: "You have come from the farms and the cities, from states big and small, and from every race, religion, colour, and creed". The class also includes citizens of 11 other countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea and Tanzania.

Trump highlighted bigger defence budgets under his watch but falsely said he had destroyed 100% of the Islamic State caliphate in the Middle East; the group still poses a threat to the U.S. He noted he had directed the killing of two terrorist leaders and had created the Space Force.

Mr. Trump took a moment to recognize an African-American cadet, Christopher Morgan, who died past year in a training accident at West Point and whose seat was vacant but for his official photograph.

Besides graduates, people in the audience included Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), chairman of the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, and Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, the 60th superintendent of the academy.

Army officials defended the move, saying the cadets would have had to courageous the health risks of traveling back to campus anyway for their final medical checks, equipment and training.

United States Military Academy graduating cadets wear face masks as they stand next to their socially-distanced seats during commencement ceremonies, Saturday, June 13. Cadets who'd been sent home because of the coronavirus were called back for the ceremony.

Instead of shaking hands with the president, graduates were to step up on a platform before the main dais and salute.

At the end of the ceremony, five hulking helicopters flew low and slow over the field as the graduates tossed their white dress caps into the air.

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