President Obama Speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy Commencement Ceremony, 5/24/13

“I’ll keep fighting for the capabilities and technologies you need to prevail, and a shipbuilding plan that puts us on track to achieve a 300-ship fleet, with capabilities that exceed the power of the next dozen navies combined. (Applause.)

And I’ll keep fighting to end those foolish across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, which is threatening our readiness. With deficits falling at the fastest rate in decades, it’s time for Congress to budget in a smarter way that protects middle-class priorities, preserves investments in our future, and keeps our military strong — because we have the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history, and I am determined to keep it that way, and Congress should be, too. (Applause.)

We need you to project power across the oceans, from the Pacific to the Persian Gulf — 100 percent on watch. We need you to partner with other navies and militaries, from Africa to the Americas. We need you to respond with compassion in times of disaster, as when you helped respond to Hurricane Sandy. And in all your work — in your lifetime of service — we need you to uphold the highest standards of integrity and character.

With the time I have left — and I know it’s a little wet, but the Superintendent told me that Marines and folks in the Navy don’t mind a little water. (Laughter.)

With the time I have left, that’s what I want to discuss today. It’s no secret that in recent decades many Americans have lost confidence in many of the institutions that help shape our society and our democracy. But I suggest to you today that institutions do not fail in a vacuum. Institutions are made up of people, individuals. And we’ve seen how the actions of a few can undermine the integrity of those institutions.

Every day, men and women of talent and skill work in the financial institutions that fund new businesses, and put new families — put families in new homes and help students go to college. But we’ve also seen how the misdeeds of some — wild risk-taking or putting profits before people — sparked a financial crisis and deepened the recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs.

Every day, elected officials like those on this stage, but also all across the nation, devote themselves to improving our communities and our country. But 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.

Every day, our civil servants do their jobs with professionalism — protecting our national security and delivering the services that so many Americans expect. But as we’ve seen again in recent days, it only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people’s trust in their government. That’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you.

And against this backdrop, what I said here four years ago remains true today: Our military remains the most trusted institution in America. When others have shirked their responsibilities, our Armed Forces have met every mission we’ve given them. When others have been distracted by petty arguments, our men and women in uniform come together as one American team.

And yet, we must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide. In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace. Likewise, those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong. That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/13QnFVW

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