Obama to deliver Coast Guard commencement address

May 18, 2011 - 2:15 AM

Obama

President Barack Obama speaks during a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is delivering his final commencement address of the season at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Although rain threatened to dampen the outdoor festivities, the commander in chief was headed to New London, Conn., on Wednesday to watch 229 cadets receive bachelor's degrees and be commissioned with the rank of ensign in the U.S. military branch that enforces the laws at sea.

It's Obama's second graduation speech this week. He spoke at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday.

The president traditionally speaks each year at commencement ceremonies for one of the military service academies. Obama addressed the U.S. Naval Academy's commencement in 2009, his first year in office, followed by the U.S. Military Academy's ceremony last year.

Many members of the Coast Guard graduating class responded to last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Some went to Honduras to help build a children's center and move two dozen orphans out of a government facility. Some also marched in Obama's inaugural parade.

After the pomp and circumstance, Obama was headed to the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts to rally 1,000 supporters at separate campaign fundraisers in Boston. The events include an intimate dinner for 30 people at an undisclosed private home, followed by a reception for about 900 people at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End neighborhood, a Democratic official said.

Tickets for the events range from $200 to the legal maximum of $35,800.

At least two Boston Celtics — All-Star Ray Allen and Hall of Famer and former captain Bill Russell — were expected at the reception in a show of support for Obama, a basketball aficionado. Obama awarded Russell a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor from the nation to a civilian, during a White House ceremony last year.