As the Obama administration and Congress attempt to respond to the sexual assault crisis plaguing the military, President Obama on Friday urged the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy to "uphold the highest standards of integrity and character."
"It's no secret that in recent decades Americans have lost confidence in the institutions that shape our society," Mr. Obama said at the Annapolis, Md., campus, standing in the pouring rain.
The military remains the most trusted institution in America, and it has met every challenge it has faced, the president said. "Yet we must acknowledge that even here, even in our military we've seen how the misconduct of some can have effects thaws ripple far and wide... Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threatening the trust and discipline that makes our military strong."
The president told the graduates sitting before that they are about to "assume the burden of leadership." As officers, they'll be entrusted with the lives of the men and women in their command, and when their service is complete, they'll help lead the nation in other ways.
In their positions of leadership, Mr. Obama said, they "have to constantly strive to remain worthy of the public trust."
"As you go forward in your careers, you need to carry forth the values you've learned at this institution," he said. "Our nation needs them now more than ever."
Mr. Obama said that "it's no accident" that the military is both the most respected institution in America and one of the most diverse, able to "harness the talents of every man and every woman."
He commended the Naval Academy's Class of 2013 for being the most diverse in the school's history and noted that among the women graduating Friday, 13 will serve on submarines.
The president also noted that first lady Michelle Obama once brought their younger daughter Sasha to visit the Academy, and they found a sign on a door that read, "Sasha Obama, Class of 2023."
"It seemed like the Navy was already doing some recruiting," he said. "You never know."