Obama: ‘Us in Leadership--Myself Included--Have to Constantly Strive to Remain Worthy of Public Trust’

By Melanie Arter | May 24, 2013 | 1:37 PM EDT

President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama told graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Friday that they – and he – must “constantly strive to remain worthy of the public trust.”

“You will lead this country, and if we want to restore the trust that the American people deserve to have in their institutions, all of us have to do our part, and those of us in leadership – myself included – have to constantly strive to remain worthy of the public trust,” said Obama.

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“So class of 2013, I say all this, because you’re about to assume the burden of leadership. As officers, you’ll be trusted with the most awesome of responsibilities – the lives of the men and women under your command – and when your service is complete, many of you will go on to help lead your communities, America’s companies,” he said.

The president urged them to “carry forth the values” that they learned at the Naval Academy, “because our nation needs them now more than ever.”

“We need your honor, that inner compass that guides you not when the path is easy and obvious, but when it’s hard and uncertain that tells you the difference between that which is right and that which is wrong,” he said.

“Perhaps, it’ll be the moment when you think nobody’s watching, but never forget that honor, like character is what you do when nobody’s looking,” Obama added.

“More likely it’ll be when you’re in the spotlight leading others – the men and women who are looking up to you to set an example. Never ask them to do what you don’t ask of yourself. Live with integrity and speak with honesty and take responsibility and demand accountability,” he said.

“We need your moral courage – the strength to do what’s right, especially when it’s unpopular, because at the end of the day and at the end of your career, you want to look in the mirror and say with confidence and with pride, ‘I fulfilled my oath. I did my duty. I stayed true to my values,’” Obama added.

Obama’s speech comes amid numerous scandals, including the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s seizing the phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press and Fox News Channel.