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Spirits High At Damp Navy Graduation

Despite the cold, rainy weather and the prospect of a world in tumult, there was not much that could dampen the spirits of the more than 1,000 Naval Academy graduates Friday as they waited for President Obama and the beginning of their commissioning ceremony.

Dave Cornes, of  Napa, California, a Marine who is headed off to Quantico and then flight school, said he may be a little fearful, but that he wants to “be a part of the solution” to the world’s problems, rather than watch them unfold. “I am excited to go out and do something. But there’s no such thing as being fearless,” he said.

Selina Benavides, of Los Angeles, is one of 13 women headed to submarine service. She was a plebe the first year that women were allowed to serve on submarines and said she admired those first women who took on the challenge. And she’s not particularly worried about the potential dangers. “If it does anything, it makes me more excited, and I can put the training I have achieved to use,” she said. “And I can make a difference. As an individual and as a team, I mean everybody works together and we can accomplish anything, really.” 

Obama, beset by troubles at home and abroad, spoke of restoring trust “that the American people deserve to have in their institutions” an d called on the Naval Academy’s class of 2013 to do their parts. “Those of us in leadership--myself included--have to constantly strive to remain worthy of the public trust,” he said. “As you go forward in your careers we need you to go forth with the values that you’ve learned at this institution because our nation needs them now more than ever.”

A day after Obama laid out a revised policy in the fight against terrorists, he aimed his remarks at his troubles with Congress. “All too often we've seen a politics where compromise is rejected as a dirty word and policies are driven by special interests rather than the national interest. And that breeds a cynicism that threatens our democracy,” he told the graduates. 

He called for a spirit of teamwork that Ebenezer Asamah, of Dallas, Texas, said helped him get is degree after five years and won him entrance to the Marine Corps. Asamah said the climb to graduation was difficult. “For commoners like me, I think it’s a hard place unless you realize that you need help and need each other to get through it,” he said. “Looking back, it’s amazing.   I can’t believe I’m here.  I’m so blessed to have this opportunity.”